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Here are some easy – and fun – ways to reduce stress while improving your health.

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Working out was one of the things many Americans gave up doing during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. With gyms closed and outdoor recreation restricted in some places, staying active wasn’t easy. And even though you could work out at home, many people felt unmotivated to do so.

Unfortunately, your mental health suffers as much as your physical health when you don’t get enough exercise. Physical activity is a great way to keep stress at bay – and we all know we could use a little stress relieving these days! With so much worry about health, work, school, finances and changes to everyday life that seem anything but normal, the one thing we can benefit from is a good sweat session.

So even if you still can’t to a gym – or you don’t feel comfortable going – it’s important to find ways to be more active. Looking for some inspiration? These six workouts offer fun ways to get some heart-healthy exercise, reduce stress and get back in your groove.

  1. Online Exercise Classes – YouTube is the place to turn to whether you want to learn how to do a downward dog or master kickboxing. Videos cover almost every form of exercise ever created. Although you’ll find amateur videos on the site, many videos are made by professional fitness instructors and offer step-by-step instructions and tips to help you perform the exercises safely.
  2. Fitness App Challenges – You’ll almost feel as if you have your own personal trainer when you participate in a fitness app challenge. Apps offer training videos and tips and allow you to set goals and track your results. They also let you challenge friends and family for some added motivation. Some fitness apps cost as much as $30 per month but free apps are also available.
  3. Zoom Dance Parties – Thanks to the popular video conferencing app, you don’t have to give up dancing with your friends. Virtual dance parties are the perfect way to have some heart-pumping fun. Choose a music genre, turn up the volume and get grooving. While you dance the night away, you’ll reduce stress naturally, burn a few calories and improve your health.
  4. Throwback Games – When was the last time you were “it” in a game of tag? Resurrecting your favorite childhood games for fun game nights with family or friends is an excellent way to stay active (just be sure to follow proper social distancing measures if you’re playing with people you don’t live with). Play capture the flag, hold a jump rope contest or create a family Olympics.
  5. Outdoor Classes – You’re much less likely to catch COVID-19, or any virus, if you exercise outdoors and practice social distancing instead of working out inside a public space. Check websites of local gyms and recreation departments for listings of outdoor fitness classes or gather a group of friends and hold your own informal classes.
  6. DIY Workouts – Even brief amounts of exercise may have surprising mental health benefits. In fact, just five minutes of aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. You don’t need a formal exercise plan to get moving. Chopping wood, dashing up and down the stairs or playing with the dog can help you get the stress-relieving exercise you need.

Stress relief is more important than ever as we deal with unprecedented changes in our lives. Fortunately, regular exercise offers a simple way to improve your health and reduce stress and anxiety.

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Date Last Reviewed: July 16, 2020

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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