The Power of Exercise
Exercise is one great way to alleviate stress. There are many kinds of exercise and relaxation practices you can try. No one is necessarily better than any other. If you already have a favorite activity, by all means, keep up with it. If you'd like to try adding something new, the possibilities are nearly limitless. There are many forms of dance, for instance, or martial arts, and many communities offer adult education classes in these disciplines. You may also be able to find a dance or martial arts studio, or a gym, in your neighborhood or nearby. Local schools often make their facilities available to the general public for nominal fees, as well.
Some activities, such as the ones just mentioned, usually require lessons. In some cases, an instructional DVD from the library can get you started (as long as you follow through on your intention to watch it and practice what you learn). Others, such as in-line skating, require equipment. (You might want to try renting equipment first, until you know you like the sport or activity.)
Before you begin any kind of exercise program, make sure to talk with your doctor, to be certain you're in the right physical shape for the proposed activity (or, in fact, any kind of exercise). Most people are, but not everyone is. That's why it's important to check.
Even though both lessons and equipment normally require an initial cash outlay, you will probably find either or both rewarding. One added benefit of group lessons: You might also make new friends. And friendships are among the best blues beaters there are!
Other Exercises You Might Like
Even if physical activity has never been your thing, you might be surprised to find that some kinds of exercise can be fun. It's best to find a type you enjoy so that you'll be more likely to stick with it.
Aside from the sports that are typically associated with exercise, you might like to try rowing, canoeing, sailing, and other kinds of boating. Not only will those things keep you fit when practiced on a regular basis, but also, they'll get you out onto the water. Water, though anxiety-provoking for some, can be very calming for others. Just getting a change of scene can often help to reduce anxiety, as well. There's also horseback riding. Again, for some people, just the idea of riding a horse will produce apprehension. However, for others, it's a true stress reducer.
Riding on trails, in particular, offers changes in scenery, and can help make one feel more attuned to nature. Horseback riding also develops muscle strength and can provide a challenging workout. As in any other sport, concentrating on learning it can help refocus your attention away from your anxiety. For many people, spending time with animals can be therapeutic. If you have not ridden before, or have not done so often, beginner lessons or trails can help you to ease into it.
Some people enjoy swimming, another excellent stress buster; there is a meditative quality to counting laps. Walking, especially every day (or at least three to five days a week) for a minimum of thirty minutes, is an exceptional exercise. For one thing, humans are physically designed to walk. It's one of the most beneficial exercises you can do. For another, walking can be a great way to “get out of yourself” for a time and see familiar or different places at a slower pace than you would passing by in a car.
If you get in your exercise first thing in the morning, before work and other obligations intrude on your day, you won't have to worry about finding the time to do it. Plus, you'll have more energy throughout your day.
You can find any number of creative ways to get in your exercise: rock climbing, bicycling, skiing, in-line or ice skating, tai chi ch'uan (often called simply “tai chi”), and so on. Choose one or more that you can practice regularly. You might even have fun!
Finding the Time
Many people would like to get more exercise, but have difficulty finding the time to do so. If you work in an office, chances are you must arrive early and stay for a minimum of eight hours. (In fact, like many office workers, you might end up staying much longer than that on most days.) You may also have a job that requires you to sit at a desk for most of the day. And once you get home, you're probably hungry and exhausted. It may be all you can do to grab some food and get ready for the next day of work. If you have children or a spouse, they, of course, will require care and attention, too. Weekends may be devoted to necessary errands or to ferrying the kids to their various activities (which you might sometimes just watch — again, a sedentary pursuit for you).