Less Stress

Angela Braden has researched and reported on wellness and lifestyle for a decade. She has been published hundreds of times in national and international magazines. Angela serves as a speaker for Alive! Expo (health convention) and as the Editor and Founder of www.angelicindulgence.com web magazine, where you’ll find more indulgent health tips and articles updated monthly.



More Activity, Less Stress

As promised, this month we focus on achieving less stress through more physical activity, in ways that feel indulgent, of course! Getting your heart pumping and breathing deeply is, in fact, the best stress buster. But getting motivated to exercise can stand in the way of this powerful tool to better health and better mood.

One key to finding your inner fitness fanatic is to counter how you work in your daily life. If you find your day-to-day duties on the mundane side, you might be harboring an unleashed fitness “adventure seeker”. If you’re job is high-paced and high-pressure, on the other hand, you’re likely over-stimulated by the end of the day and in need of some serious unwinding. If your job requires a lot of autonomy and little interaction with others, your inner fitness fanatic craves team sports, running clubs, or simply a brisk walking visit with a friend or friends. Take a look at the three types below and reflect on your needs (they might vary day to day as well).

Use your typical workday as a guide to finding more balance in your lifestyle through fitness:

The adventure seeker – If your work life borders on boring, explore exotic and challenging fitness avenues. You’ll not only enjoy the exercise, which is an absolute necessity in a lifestyle of healthy indulgence, but you will also create a more fulfilling and enriching life. It’s not just the type of activity you chose, but change is also vital. As soon as you get used to an exciting class or sport, change it up. Belly dancing, strip-tease cardio, mountain biking, kayaking— it’s a whole new world!

Here are some activities to try, based on your fitness level:

Beginner through Advanced:
Ballroom dancing starts slow as you learn the steps, but advances, in concert with you skill, to a heart pounding exercise—shhh—you’ll be too busy thinking about the steps and having fun to notice. A 140-pound person burns an average of 349 calories in an hour of fast social dancing (Salsa and Swing are also fun options).

Intermediate/advanced:
Trapeze, a traditional circus act, with its creativity, grace, and adrenaline boost is a current fitness trend that sends the heart soaring along with the body. Increased flexibility is an added bonus—the sky’s the limit!

Advanced:
Club Boxing is intense exercise. It doesn’t get much cardio than a two-minute round in the ring, but your mind will be working so fast and calculating, you won’t have a millisecond to get bored.

The over-stimulated – If you need to get centered at the start of the workday or unwind after it, chose relaxing exercise that releases tension from the mind and body. Or, opt for a stationary cardio machine and escape into a good novel or your favorite magazine.

Beginner through Advanced:
Yoga, with its fluid movements and deep, hypnotic breathing will induce physical as well as mental harmony. Yoga increases focus and balance (literally). Push your flexibility (and all those workday pressures away) with each gentle, stretch.

Intermediate/Advanced:
A Stationary bike, elliptical or treadmill needn’t be boring with the right reading material. Plus, there is very little planning involved—simply step on the machine and go. Set the pace high enough to work up a sweat as you catch up on celebrity gossip or get lost in the latest sci-fi, romance or political thriller. Start and finish with a two-minute all out sprint, and you’ve nourished your body along with your brain. Compliment 2-3 times per week with upper-body work—pump light weights while watching movies on TBS, perhaps?

Advanced:
Power Yoga [link to: http://www.progressivepoweryoga.com/] can burn 800 calories per hour and include more push ups, as you move rapidly through the poses, than the most aggressive “boot camp” programs. But because of the deep breathing and flowing stretches, you actually come away energized—with a gentle buzz replacing any tension in the body.

The social butterfly:
If you work in isolation all day, your body and soul will benefit from team sports and activity groups. Check out local gyms and community leagues for organized teams to join. This strategy combines two of the biggest factors in longevity (how long you live!)—exercise and social connection. That’s right— research shows, feeling connected with friends directly contributes to physical health.

Beginner through Advanced:
Walking is one of the simplest and most natural exercises. A walking meeting in the fresh air is always better than the power lunch or coffee date. Deepen your relationships by scheduling time to power walk with a friend or spouse or start a walking club in your neighborhood. Add in some lunges, squats, or a few playful races to sneak in strength training or more intensity, tailored to your fitness level.

Intermediate/advanced:
Team sports – pick your favorite and unleash your inner player!

Now that you have the motivation and some fresh fitness ideas, all you need is more energy, right? Check out the A.I. Holistic Forum for expert advice on increasing energy naturally.

Stay Well!

Angela

*Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer

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