3 low-impact exercise types to relieve stress while building strength

Looking for a less intense way to stay active? These gentle workouts bring the perfect balance of fitness and mobility.

We know chronic stress can be detrimental to nearly every aspect of your health. What’s more, not getting enough physical activity can exacerbate stress, stealing the brain’s ability to process and handle stressful times. good news? Exercise really can be an effective, natural remedy. And you don’t need to hire a personal trainer or go to a bootcamp workout to reap the stress-stress benefits of exercising.

There are some types of restorative exercise that prioritize breathing and increase oxygen intake, among other fabulous benefits like building balance and calming the mind. In turn, this helps calm the nervous system caused by stress.

Time to stop living on adrenaline and stress and start focusing on breathing and movement. Incorporate these three healthy, restorative movements into your routine to calm your mind, strengthen your body, and start reducing stress.

1. go
It turns out that the benefits of walking extend far beyond a pleasurable activity. First, it relaxes your body and mind by increasing blood circulation. Even a 10-minute brisk walk can improve your mood and calm your body, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Walking is also low-impact, requires no additional equipment, and can be easily adjusted to suit your intensity preferences.

Proper walking form is not only important for injury prevention, but also for results.

engage your core and glutes
Many people complain of lower back pain when walking. A good way to fix this is to draw the navel toward the spine and squeeze the buttocks.

watch your feet
The position of your feet when walking is also important. If you’re looking down and your toes are pointing to the sides (duck walk), you’ve probably experienced knee pain at some point. Bringing those toes in so they face the direction you’re going will help align your body for better movement.

keep head and neck aligned
To reduce any hunched forward posture that can lead to neck pain, keep your head up and your eyes in front of you as you walk, which means trying not to look down at your phone!

always wear proper footwear
Sturdy walking shoes are a must for yourself, and make sure yours are no older than six to eight months old. Even with the best walking form, form alone won’t help if you’re wearing the wrong shoes, unfortunately.

2. Yoga
Yoga is an excellent way to promote relaxation because it incorporates deep breathing into every movement. In yoga practice, the breath and body almost always move in sync. Yoga is a great way to focus on the present moment through your breath and become more in tune with your body.

For beginners, it’s advisable to look for shorter classes that don’t hold the pose for too long, with a modified instructor. Like anything else, start out slowly and build up to more challenging poses.

The safest version of yoga will be face-to-face with a trusted and knowledgeable yoga teacher, as they are able to give you direct feedback as you engage.

If your budget doesn’t have room for other apps or subscriptions, there are even more ways to practice yoga for free.

3. Tai Chi
The fluid movements characteristic of Tai Chi work to soothe your body through its range of motion. Tai Chi can be traced anywhere from 700 to 1,500 years ago, and its roots are in a complex ancient Chinese martial art. This gentle and mindful practice is low-impact, easy on joints, and integrates body and mind.

The complete Tai Chi experience offers a long list of benefits – balance, strength, breath work, meditation and overall control and connection of body and mind. Tai Chi has been found to improve mental health and is an invaluable way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression and improve energy, stamina, mood and aerobic capacity. Some encouraging research analyzes have also shown that tai chi can be effective in improving cardiorespiratory fitness in healthy adults.

The exercises involve moving slowly and gently from one pose to the next (almost like a choreographed dance), resulting in a continuous range of motion and honing mental focus. While maintaining sequence of movements is the ultimate goal, beginners can try basic Tai Chi movements such as white cranes, twisting steps, and harp strumming.

As with anything, it’s hard to replace the value of quality in-person instruction – but you can definitely try tai chi at home.