(HealthDay)—Exercise is a known stress buster, and different disciplines relax and tone you in a variety of ways. So, you can pick and choose from many types of exercise to go beyond physical fitness to better mental health.
Exercise’s mind-body boosts:
- Improves your mood by releasing natural feel-good chemicals.
- Decreases tension in your muscles.
- Leads to deeper, more restorative sleep.
Now for the specifics. Studies show that a cardio workout is not only good for the heart, but also for the mind, decreasing stress. Whether you work out in one daily 30-minute session or three separate 10-minute sessions, moderate-intensity activities like walking, dancing, using the elliptical or pedaling on a stationary bike do the trick.
Yoga gets the top nod for its mind-body balance—the combination of deep breathing and stretching enhances flexibility and mood. Just remember that yoga isn’t a substitute for cardio because it typically doesn’t raise your heart rate. So think of it as an add-on.
Chinese traditions are at the heart of tai chi, a combination of martial arts and meditation. For the biggest benefit, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends learning from a qualified teacher and practicing on your own between classes.
Head-to-toe stretching is important for flexibility and, like yoga, it draws on breathing and focus, making it a relaxing way to end every workout. If you carry tension in your neck and shoulders, be sure to target these areas.
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