How to Use Exercise to Relieve Stress

May 01, 2024

In today's fast-paced world, stress has become a common part of our daily lives. From facing pressure at work to tackling personal challenges, the feeling of constant stress can affect our mental well-being.

One powerful tool for combating stress and improving mental health is exercise. Physical activity benefits our bodies, has a HUGE impact on our mental health, and improves our overall well-being.

At O2 Fitness Clubs, we understand the importance of mental health awareness and the role that exercise plays in stress relief. So keep reading as we explain the connection between exercise and mental health and give our expert advice on how to use exercise to relieve stress!

The Connection Between Exercise and Mental Health

Research has shown that exercise has a ton of benefits for our mental health. Physical activity causes our bodies to naturally release endorphins (aka those "feel-good" hormones you feel after finishing a workout) which can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Exercise also promotes better sleep, boosts self-esteem, and provides a sense of accomplishment – all of which contribute to improved mental well-being and lower stress levels.

But what do you do when you feel too busy and stressed to fit exercise into your daily routine?

The good news is that virtually any form of exercise can relieve stress! A little exercise each day can go a long way in keeping your stress levels low and under control.

How to Start Using Exercise to Relieve Stress

Find what you enjoy.

Finding ways to get moving that you genuinely enjoy is key to staying motivated and consistent in your exercise routine. If you enjoy what you're doing, you're more likely to stick with it long-term and reap more of the mental health benefits of regular exercise. 

Set SMART Goals.

Setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals is the best way to set yourself up for success with minimal stress as you work toward them. By making your goals extremely clear and trackable, you can stay motivated and ensure you're putting your energy toward what gets you closer to achieving them.

Need someone to hold you accountable for working toward your goals? Use your free progress session every month at O2 to talk with a fitness professional about what's working and what isn't to work toward your goals more effectively!

Mix it up.

If you're using exercise as a tool for stress relief, variety is key! Trying different activities can help you discover what you truly enjoy and keep your fitness routine exciting and fresh. Whether you're new to exercise or want to try and spice up your current fitness routine with something new, here are some options to consider:

  • Cardiovascular Exercises: Activities like running, cycling, dancing, or even walking outside can elevate your heart rate and help release endorphins, making you feel more relaxed and positive!
  • Yoga and Pilates Classes: These mind~body style exercise classes focus on breathing, mindfulness, and gentle movements, promoting relaxation and stress relief.
  • Strength Training: Lifting weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises can increase your physical strength 

Listen to your body.

Working out can be great for your mental health, but it's important to pay attention to how your body responds to exercise, adjust your routine, and avoid burnout or injury. Tuning in to how your body responds to different types and amounts of physical activity will help you make informed decisions about your workout routine and ensure that the exercise you're doing is beneficial and sustainable!



Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve mental health. It releases feel-good hormones, helps you sleep better, boosts self-esteem, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Even a little bit of daily exercise can make a big difference in managing stress.

Start exercising to relieve stress by finding activities you enjoy, setting SMART goals, regularly mixing up your fitness routine, and listening to your body.

Remember, taking care of yourself is important, so make exercise a part of your routine for a happier, less stressful life!

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