Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Calm Down

After a harried afternoon at the office or a tense argument with your partner, you may not feel especially motivated to exercise. But researchers are discovering that a workout is one of the most potent antidotes to stress. "Any exercise that gets your heart rate up helps lower levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol," says Mark Liponis, M.D., corporate medical director of Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass.

 Chronic stress causes your body to release greater amounts of these hormones—over time this can lead to headaches, digestive problems, insomnia, depression, and other health issues, says Liponis. Working out doesn't just keep your body's stress response in check, it also promotes the release of endorphins, natural pain-relieving and mood-boosting compounds. "And exercise helps you become more self-aware," says Matthew Cohen, a qigong, tai chi, and yoga teacher, creator of the Qi Gong Fire & Water DVD, and owner of Sacred Energy Arts ( in Santa Monica, Calif. "You'll learn to recognize the subtle signs that you're stressed—like tension in your neck—and you'll be able to calm yourself before you get frazzled."

MAKE IT MINDFUL. "Exercises that link the mind and body through conscious movement help release blocked energy—what we know as stress," says Cohen. Get started with the following gentle yet effective qigong move, developed by Cohen.

By Drea Knufken


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