The Best Stress-Relieving Workout, According to 11 Fitness Experts

“This helps me de-stress because I’m making a point to pause during a hectic day. It’s about being self-aware enough of how you’re feeling at a certain point—emotionally, mentally, physically—and prioritizing you by focusing on being present, mindful, and tapping into your parasympathetic system (the part of the nervous system that helps you relax and slows down your heart rate),” she says.

How you can try it: Try these 12 hip stretches and 11 lower-back exercises to relieve tightness and pain, and increase mobility.

3. A gentle yoga flow.

When Jessica Rihal, a registered yoga teacher and meditation instructor based in Orange County, California, is looking to relieve stress, she’ll do a series of poses in prone (belly down) or tabletop position to help her focus on breathing and relaxing.

Some of her favorite poses for relieving stress are a supported variation of child’s pose, cat-cow, thread the needle, hug the earth, and a reclined position with bolsters or legs up on the wall.

“I find poses that keep me prone or in tabletop position are most helpful because having my face down allows me to withdraw my senses, focus on breathing and help to promote relaxation,” Rihal says. “I will typically use blocks, a bolster, and even my eye mask to help make my practice supportive and restorative.”

How you can try it: Start feeling zen right away with these 6 calming yoga poses.

4. WOD strength training.

Depending on how you’re feeling, stress may make you crave doing something either relaxing or adrenaline-pumping. That’s true for Marcia Darbouze, D.P.T., a physical therapist and registered yoga instructor based in Hollywood, FL.

“I have two forms of movement that give me joy and help me de-stress: the physical practice of yoga and strength training. Either way, I’ll opt for movement alone and enjoy the solitude,” Darbouze, co-host of the Disabled Girls Who Lift podcast, tells SELF.

If she is craving more movement, she’ll do a quick, 10-minute cardio and strength training workout. For example, she’ll do a barbell and resistance band circuit, which includes barbell cleans, barbell strict presses (overhead press), banded trunk rotations (hold band and twist away), banded Pallof presses (hold band and press away from your chest without rotating), and kneeling windmills with a kettlebell.

“Strength training in WOD form is a great way to burn off energy without having to calculate numbers or percentages. It’s also a great way to add in more small and accessory movements that help me move better,” she says. “And once I’m done sweating, I’m done stressing.”

How you can try it: If you want to put some movement behind weight, try these 6 basic barbell exercises, and for a more relaxing routine, get started with these 12 beginner yoga poses.

5. Your favorite sport.

If traditional gym-based workouts don’t exactly ooze relaxation for you, consider engaging in a sport you love instead. Nate Feliciano, owner and head of training at private fitness studio Studio 16 in New York City, likes playing basketball with his friends to distract his mind.

“Playing basketball with my friends helps me take my mind off what’s stressing me out and helps me focus on something small, like winning the basketball game or talking smack with my friends,” he says.

How you can try it: Since close-contact sports with groups aren’t advisable now due to COVID-19, you may need to focus more on individual aspects of your favorite sport—say, working on your foul shot in basketball or perfecting your tennis serve (try a virtual challenge to include the social aspect.) Or get the one-on-one game going with someone in your household.

6: An intense HIIT workout.

When you need to let out some steam, a HIIT workout might just be the remedy you need. For Hannah Eden, an iFit trainer, doing a HIIT workout and finishing with a bodyweight flow helps reduce her stress. Her style of HIIT combines short, intense bursts of cardio with resistance training using minimal equipment, and takes less than 30 minutes. To finish things off, she does an Animal Flow, which includes movement patterns such as beast, crab, and scorpion. Ideally, she likes to do her workout outdoors in an open space.

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