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Ladies’ Choice: Stress-Busting Workouts!

By Jennifer H. McInerney

As I mentioned in a previous post, July and August are particularly hectic months here at CBI. In addition to our monthly edition of the magazine, we’re also working on the annual FIT Fitness Equipment Buyers’ Guide—which, this year, numbers nearly 200 pages. With multiple projects coming together simultaneously, the deadlines are incredibly tight; there just never seems to be enough time to get everything done and, as a result, stress levels escalate!

So, naturally, that brings us to the topic of how well fitness helps to relieve stress. To get us through these challenging weeks, my colleagues and I turn to our favorite workouts, of course. After a long, stressful day at the office, I can’t think of a better way to blow off steam than with a good cardio workout, such as step aerobics. (Trying Zumba, especially after Mia’s hearty endorsement, is next on my list!) Strength-training also helps restore the energy that has drained out of me after so many hours sitting at my desk, making me feel like I can take on any challenge!

But if I had to choose just one, my favorite stress-relieving workout—hands down (on the mat!)—is yoga. For me, it’s the complete package: it gets my body moving and my muscles working, but it also helps me to slow down, calm my mind, stretch out my aches and pains, and just relax. Good-bye, stress!

But enough about me. Here’s what some of my fitter colleagues had to say about fending off stress with fitness:

Mia Coen: For the purpose of stress relief, I’d have to say my two favorite workouts are Zumba and kickboxing. Zumba is great on those days when my mind is racing and I just need to tune in to some music and let the rhythm take me over. On those days when I’m frustrated, frazzled, or just plain cranky, it’s nice to get into some kickboxing. The punching and kicking are like physically taking on those uncontrollable facets in my life that aggravate me.

Patricia Glynn: When I’m frazzled, I usually unroll my yoga mat. Yes, it’s sort of the typical, expected thing to do when you’re stressed, so I am not expecting to win points for originality. But then, there’s a really good reason why it’s the go-to workout for the angst-ridden—it works! Yoga is super-calming. You breathe deeply. Your shoulders relax. The lights are dim and the music is soothing. Yoga is like a warm embrace after a too long, too busy day. I always feel better afterward. Actually, I feel better just thinking about it! I reach and I stretch. And in that moment, the rest of the world—the hectic activity outside that studio—ceases to exist. I am not focused on how many miles I’ve left to run or how much weight I ought to be lifting. When I practice yoga, it’s just about releasing and letting go. It’s about being peaceful and, well, just being. Of course, sometimes, nothing soothes my weary soul like an energetic Spinning class. It’s just so much fun! How can you not forget your worries when you’re ‘jumping’ to the beat of a rocking soundtrack? As your feet sprint furiously, you feel alive. You’re sweating, you’re smiling, and you’re Spinning your cares away. 

Julie King: My best stress-reliever is definitely a cardio workout, preferably a run outdoors, accompanied by a favorite playlist on my iPod, fresh air, and the sights and sounds around. I like being able to get away mentally and physically on runs, without being accessible via phone or the computer. When I’m just physically drained, I’ve taken to long walks in the last few years as well—same principle, but slower pace and more focused “thinking” time. After a run or walk, I definitely feel refreshed and better able to cope with life’s stresses.

Jean Suffin: Favorite stress-relief workout: Lifting glass of wine to mouth, placing it down on table. One has to first determine what truly causes them stress and understand the triggers. Sometimes it’s not obvious. For instance, yoga is touted as one of the best stress relievers, but for me, it’s tremendously stressful. If doing things “right,” following instructions, and comparing oneself to others are causes of stress, classes of any sort are not relaxing. My stress relievers are activities—like running and lifting weights—where I exert myself, sweat, and go at my own pace. Gauging mood on that particular day is important as well. Sometimes being around people is stressful, and on those days, I go for a run. On other days, social contact helps relieve stress and then the gym is the perfect place. Then, if all else fails, go back to my first sentence.

What’s your favorite stress-relieving workout? Please let us know in the “Post a Comment” box below…

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