Dr. Aaron's Blog

7 Exercises That Will Relax The Mind And Body:

April 11, 2016 All, Healthy Eating, Naturopathic Medicine, Nutrition by Aaron Van Gaver

In the modern world, relaxation can be hard to find. We are physically on the go for many hours each day trying to balance work, family, friends and social obligations. Even in our “down time” we are continually logged on to our laptops, smart phones and emails.

Relaxation is important. It is during our rest that our body rejuvenates. Stress can bring on a host of illnesses from mental and emotional illness to physical illnesses such as migraine headaches, ulcers, and chronic sleep disorders.

The following simple exercises help your mind and body relax. Incorporating these exercises into your life will create a much healthier and happier you.

1. Timed Breathing

We often hear the words “take a deep breath” when we are stressed. But do not discount this instruction. Proper breathing sends a signal to your brain to relax the nervous system. Your muscles also relax relieving many pains of keeping your body tensed. The exercise is easy and can be done anywhere. Sitting still and trying to concentrate breathe in deeply so that the stomach muscles expand. While you inhale count slowly to five; then exhale counting slowly to 6. If you need to adjust these based on how the breathing makes you feel make it shorter or longer by one number. The goal is to exhale longer than you inhale. When you push the air from your body allow the stomach to go back to normal. Repeat this three times. As you incorporate this into your day, you may find you can do this while doing other things and your stress level should respond.

2. Running or speed walking

When we run or walk quickly, our heart rate goes up. This releases the chemicals in the brain that make us feel good. Running (sprinting or jogging) is inexpensive (all you need is a good pair of running shoes) and the effects are immediate. Not only is stress relieved, but weight is controlled as well as blood pressure.

3. Water exercises

Though water aerobics are great, for a stress busting work out begin your work out with a series of stretches in the pool. Let the water push against you as you walk, stretch and twist your body. Use your arms to push the water from you. Follow up with your regular water work out or just a swim.

4. Stretch

Before you even get out of bed in the morning you should prepare your body with full body stretches. This is exactly what it sounds like. Try to reach your hands as far up (above your shoulders) as you can while trying to stretch to toes as far down as possible. Repeat this 10 times. Concentrate on your deep breathing and stretching. This is really good for the body. It exercises every muscle group.

5. Take the stairs

Walking upstairs increases the heart rate, blood flow and breathing. Walking a flight of stairs is great muscle building exercise and the increased breathing relieves mental stress.

6. Yoga

Yoga is a series of slow stretching movements that allow you to work your body while removing stress and distractions from your mind. There are various yoga routines for any level. This is a basic yoga exercise that will benefit anyone:

Sit on the floor with hands by your sides and feet together. Place a rolled up blanket, sleeping bag or thick pillow behind the back. Put the bottoms of your feet together and pull your feet in to your butt. With your palms on the floor, lay back on the pillow. Breathe deeply and exhale, repeating three times. Now slowly return to your original position. Repeat five times.

7. Biking

To improve your breathing, muscles and over all condition ride your bike. Simply riding on a bike trail with minimal resistance gives you all of the gut busting properties of a work-out while freeing the mind. Casual biking can be a great stress reliever.

For more tips on how to become physically and mentally healthier, speak to a trainer. The routines to improve mental health are different than the routines for building physical health but many of the tools are the same.