Stress Less! Alternative Exercise Options to Help Relieve Stress – Lauren Turner AEP

Stress is a biological response the body undergoes when dealing with a fight or flight situation. It is the body’s protective mechanism against threatening situations. When you experience stress, various hormones are released within the body so that the appropriate organs can respond to the change in environment.  Common symptoms of stress are an elevated heart rate and short, shallow breathing. Stress can also be triggered by internal thoughts such as feelings of being overwhelmed, being under pressure or worrying thoughts. Prolonged stress can lead to further physical and mental conditions which can significantly impact our daily lives. These include depression, anxiety, nausea, light-headedness, high blood pressure, insomnia and even weight gain, just to name a few.  As stress can be a prominent factor in our daily lives, whether it be meeting that deadline at work or performing in front of a large crowd, it is important to know how to manage and prevent stress in your daily life.


Meditation and breathing exercises are one of the most common interventions to help relieve stress. However, exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress and improve your health and wellbeing.  In addition to incorporating meditation and breathing, the body releases chemicals when you exercise to help stabilise mood.  The following are different modes of exercise that you can participate in to help relieve stress:


Pilates is a strength-based style of exercise, focusing on postural awareness and body alignment. Whilst movements within this style of exercise can target either upper or lower body strength, every exercise is focused on muscle control of the deep lower abdominals (transverse abdominus) and breathing. Because Pilates emphasises core control, some may find this mode of exercise to be suitable to help with lower back pain, improving trunk control and strength. Here are just some examples of the types of exercises performed in a Pilates class:

Yoga is a meditative style of exercise, focusing on mindfulness, meditation and breathing. Exercises comprise of a series of poses and stretches designed to improve flexibility and balance. Due to its meditative nature, some may find this mode of exercise to be relaxing, reflective and great for mental health. Here are just some examples of the types of exercises performed in a yoga class:

Tai Chi is similar to yoga in regards to the elements in which this style of exercise targets. This form of exercise focuses on mindfulness, meditation and breathing through continuous movement patterns so that each movement flows from one to the other. Tai Chi is considered less demanding on the body as all  movements are performed in a standing position. There are a variety of styles of Tai Chi and can be used for falls prevention in older individuals. Here are just some examples of the types of exercises performed in a Tai Chi class: