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The 5 Best Workouts For Your Stress Type

After a rough day at work, your first inclination might be to go fight it out in a boxing class. Or, maybe your go-to is yoga or running. Using exercise to destress obviously has way more physical and mental health perks than a Netflix binge. “It is proven that exercise can reduce stress levels, anxiety and depression,” says Brooke Taylor, New York City-based Master Trainer and owner of Taylored Fitness NY LTD. “Movement and physical activity activates your endorphin hormones, which are also known as your ‘happy’ hormone. It is the body’s natural mood elevator. Nine out of ten times, when a client comes into the gym and they are stressed out, they leave calm and happy with a little pep in their step because they are doing something healthy for themselves and their body. It’s that runner’s high.”

Breaking a sweat any way you please is sure to be an anxiety-buster. But, the type of exercise you do can make a difference, depending on which kind of worry you’re working out for. In honor of Stress Awareness Month, these are the best types of workouts to combat each type of stress.


When you’re constantly struggling with chronic stress, a good stretch can help soothe you. “Stretching increases circulation, which in turn makes you healthy through the increase in blood flow,” explains Eric the Trainer. And the effects aren’t just physical. “Stretching properly requires focus and proper breathing techniques, which both help establish a sense of calmness in an individual,” says Michaela Ragaas, Technogym’s Education & Training Manager (NASM certified).


Anyone who has ever taken an HIIT class knows that you’re so busy trying to keep up with the fast-paced workout that you can barely think about anything else — and that’s exactly the point for dealing with short-term stress. “HIIT requires intense focus from the participant, which in itself can shift their focus away from their stressors and helps them to focus simply on their workout, which in itself reduces stress,” Ragaas says. “In addition, HIIT creates a great output in the endorphins that help the body improve mood and energy.”

Resistance training

“Resistance training, as well as other forms of exercise, have positive outcomes for depression in that it helps to release the feel-good endorphins and other brain chemicals that enhance someone’s sense of well-being,” Ragaas says. “Resistance training also helps individuals gain confidence, encourages social interaction, and improves overall health, all of which can improve depression or sadness.” Plus, Eric adds, “Those endorphins released during and after strength training can be more powerful and effective than any drug created by pharmaceutical companies.”


When you have excited or nervous energy from too much anxiety, you might want to hit the dance floor. “It’s a beautiful art of self-expression and joy,” Eric says. “There are no rules or boundaries.” Plus, similar to HIIT, it requires a lot of focus, which takes your mind off of your worries. “In addition, dance can be very aerobically challenging, which creates improved mood and energy,” Ragaas says. 


If you’re in a rage, your first inclination might be to hit a punching bag. But surprisingly, yoga is a healthier way to cope with angry stress than boxing. “The movement of yoga, along with its mediation properties, allows the release of stress and the increase of Qi (life energy),” Eric says. Ragaas adds, “Yoga is great for stress in that it is set in a calming environment and allows the participants to work on a mind-body connection in combining physical poses with controlled breathing, meditation and relaxation.”

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