3 Best Exercises for Stress Management – Why Do Them?

Exercise is very beneficial when it comes to keeping stress under control.  And there are many benefits to every kind of exercise that is offered out there but not everyone can do the hard core gym stuff because the bodies of some can only handle so much when it comes to physical exertion.  So in this article, I am going to share with you the 3 best exercises for stress management that anyone can do.

Tension and Trauma Release Exercises

Tension and Trauma Release Exercises, or TRE, were created by a doctor named David Berceli. We’ve all seen how animals react when they are scared. They shake as a way to release nervous energy. But as people, we tend to hold in our nervous energy which causes us tension and stress. TRE is a series of exercises that helps the body to release deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. They focus on fatiguing the psoas and leg muscles which then activates a natural reflex of shaking. This releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. And this encourages the body to return back to a state of balance.

Shaking the muscles increases resiliency of the body because it causes deep relaxation that naturally reduces stress levels. It can release emotions ranging from mild upset to severe anxiety. And can be very beneficial for people who suffer with PTSD.

TRE is as beneficial as yoga, talk therapy, and massage. And many people report feelings of peace and well-being after doing TRE.

What You Need

All you need to do this exercise are clothes that are easy to move in, a wall, a yoga mat if you do not have a carpeted floor, and this book or this DVD for following the exercise routine.

What to Expect

This exercise is a little weird at first because during the exercise, you hit a point where you start to shake in your legs.  Once the exercise routine is over, you lay on the floor and your body will shake from your head to your feet.  And the shake goes in waves.  Some waves are vigorous and some are gentle.  And the response is involuntary once the shake starts.  But you are in complete control of ending the shake if it gets to be too much.

Besides being a different sensation and experience, I felt relaxed and calm after doing these exercises. And TRE is now part of my self care routine because they help me let go of the craziness that family life can bring.

Hiking

There are many health benefits to hiking.  But the best benefit of hiking may be the restorative and stress-relieving powers of being outside in nature. Spending time in green space – nature preserves, woodlands, and even urban parks – can ease stress levels.

If you have ever met a person who spends a lot of time outside, what is their demeanor?  Typically they are happy and healthy people.  Why? Because hiking helps you feel good because it’s a great workout for your core, glutes, and legs.  This helps you keep in shape which make you feel good about you!  It also puts you outside where you can fill your lungs with fresh air.  And the sun is a great source of much needed vitamin D for a more positive mood. Plus you can find many different terrains for the intensity of hike you are comfortable with and you can work up the intensity.

What You Need

Hiking requires a few things to make the experience enjoyable.

  1. Appropriate clothing. Dress in clothes that are easy to move in and appropriate for the climate you are in. Either a short or long sleeve t-shirt will do. But I recommend pants or shorts that are not restrictive like these ones for men and these ones for women.
  2. Hiking shoes.  Make sure that they fit your feet well, have good ankle support, and tread, and are waterproof.  I recommend these hiking boots for men and these ones for women.
  3. Water bottle.  Keeping hydrated while hiking is necessary especially if the weather is warm and sunny. The water bottle should be easy to carry and easy to drink from. My favorite water bottle for hiking is this one.
  4. Backpack. If you plan on going on a hike that will take a few hours, I recommend bringing a backpack so you can carry snacks, a rain coat, and an extra water bottle.
  5. Map. Cell service isn’t always available while hiking in some areas.  So it’s good to know where you are going. If you are not sure where to go for a hike, I recommend using the All Trails app.  It is free and shows you all the trails near you and their intensity level and what to expect on the trails you choose.  You can also download the map if you will be in an area without cell service.
  6. Hiking buddy. A companion is good to have for safety. But, if you will be going alone, please let someone know where you will be and when you will be back.

What to Expect

My favorite things about hiking is the beautiful scenery and the playful birds and animals.  This brings me great joy to see and watch.  My breathing also seems a little deeper when I am done with my hike.  And because of the workout that the hike gives, my sleep is deeper and more restful.  Depending on the intensity of the hike, sometimes my legs will be sore the next day, but that sensation is gone in a day or two.

Because I enjoy hiking and it clears my mind and gives me a deep feeling of joy and contentment, I make this a regular part of my self are routine, too.

Dance

Have you ever been to a dance, or club, where everyone dancing looks forlorn?  Me either. Like hiking, dance has a number of health benefits, but the best benefit is that it decreases stress, anxiety, and depression. It also helps improve mental health and feelings of well-being. And it helps build confidence. Plus there is a number of different dances to choose from!

What You Need

Not much is needed to dance.  All you need is music, the right shoes for the type of dance you choose, clothing that is easy to move in, a water bottle, a smile, and a place to dance.

There may be a local dance studio that teaches dance, however, they can be quite pricey.  Any gym that offers workout classes usually offer Zumba classes too. Zumba is a Latin based dance routine.  If your gym doesn’t offer workout classes, then I recommend looking to see if the local community center offers a Zumba or other dance class.  If they do, the price is usually very affordable and offered once a week.

But if you prefer to dance in the privacy of your own home, you can turn on the music and dance to beat or you can dance with the help of a game console. The Nintendo Switch offers Zumba  and Just Dance.  Nintendo Wii offers Just Dance, Gold’s Gym Dance Workout, and several additions of Zumba. Several additions of Just Dance is offered for PlayStation 4but if you have a PlayStation 3 there are several additions of Zumba choose from. And if you are a person who has a XBox One, the both Zumba and Just Dance are offered as with the XBox 360.

What To Expect

No matter how you choose to do it, dancing is a fun way to release stress! So you can expect to learn new moves, sweat a little, and have a fun time!  When I dance, my heart rate goes up and I can feel the blood pump through my veins.  I feel rejuvenated and refreshed with a happier mind set.

Because dancing is fun and makes me feel happy, I also make this part of my self care routine.

Conclusion

Whether you are exercising to release deep muscular tension, to feel joy, or to have fun, all that is needed is the appropriate gear, water, and the willingness to give it a try!

If you have comments or questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Thanks,

Danica at Roll with the Punches

17 thoughts on “3 Best Exercises for Stress Management – Why Do Them?

  • It almost seems as if you made this website specifically for me. I am always stressed out and have no idea why. I get tension headaches and use a neck hammock when i have time to relieve the tension, that might be another product to incorporate into your site. Will definitely have to check out the first book to see if i can figure out where my stress comes from. Thanks for the tip.

    • Thank you for the idea of writing about a neck hammock. That is something I am not familiar but I’m interested! I hope you can find the source of your stress.

  • Hi Danica, I’m not a very stressful person and that might well have much to do with the fact that I ride mountain bike at least 5 days out of 7. However there are those days! Thanks to this post I have a new idea to test. I have heard of it but not put quite so simply explained as you do here. Great work, thank you.

  • This is a great post. We live in Newfoundland, Canada and we hike a lot. I don’t know if you have ever been but we have a beautiful rugged coast line that is surrounded by trails. This helps with our stress for sure. We are especially interested in TRE. We are both Exercise Professionals and love learning new techniques to help our clients and ourselves manage stress. Thank you for this new information. We will read more of your post.

    Thank you

    • What a fascinating profession you are in! The TRE is something I stumbled upon and found it to be an amazing way to relieve stress. I hope you and your clients find it beneficial too!

  • Hi Danica.
    I found this article really fascinating and relevant, particularly the tension and trauma release exercises. I love hiking to release stress but don’t always have the time, so the exercises will be great when time is limited.
    Many thanks
    Adrian

  • These are all very good tips. I love the hiking tips. One other thing to keep in mind, depending on where you live is to check the weather and possibly call the park rangers to check hiking conditions. Some terrain can be very dangerous in certain types of weather. Very good article.

  • Hi Danica. Thank you for this info. I am almost always stressed out about something and exercise is always my go to. Great suggestions and recommendations. I have not done very much hiking, but I think that is something that I will give a try.

    Thanks.

  • I am glad I stumbled across this post. You gave very useful advice. I love to hike and dance, so I got this covered, but I will make an effort to do it more often. I will certainly try the shaking method. I had read that when your child experienced trauma or tension, you can use shaking as a way to relax him. You can do it as a form of evening massage. They usually respond to it very well.
    Have a nice day.
    Katja

  • Can you explain more about the Tension and Trauma Release Exercises? I was doing something similar. I would put my back against the wall, then lower my body into a sitting position with my back against the wall and hold the position until my legs shake like crazy. Afterward, I would feel fantastic relief. Is this exercise included with the Tension and Trauma Release Exercises program?

    • The main part of these exercises are:
      1. a series of standing stretches that stretch the legs
      2. a wall sit, as you described, for up to 5 minutes
      3. holding a bridge position on the outsides of your feet for up to 5 minutes
      4. place the feet flat on the floor with knees in the air while your body shakes.
      The shake goes in waves and shouldn’t be done more then 30 minutes because too much can have a negative effect on your mood. The purpose of this exercise is to feel better. They can be done daily, weekly, monthly. Really they are designed for self care when you need them. But it does sound like you where doing a variation of them.

  • I really enjoyed reading your article. I can agree that physical activity and exercise helps with stress. And I think it is one of the best ways to deal with stress. I do not dance professionaly, but I do it when I go out. I would not call it a stress relief therapy but this also helps me feel better.

  • I’ve been dealing with anxiety since 2016 and I’ve found that most forms of physical exercise are helping, including hiking and dancing. I’ve recently join a cycling club and I enjoy that very much as well. It’s great for exercise, exploring the city and meeting people.

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