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Exercise is one of the best stress relievers known to man. "Even after one workout exercisers report reduced feelings of stress and improvements to overall mood," she says. Studies show that sustained, rhythmic, repetitive exercise for at least 30 minutes boosts feelings of happiness and reduces anxiety, says Jessica Matthews, senior advisor for health and fitness education for the American Council on Exercise. These two types of workouts seem to slash stress the best, she says:
Lots of studies have found yoga improves relaxation, decreases stress hormones (i.e., cortisol), lowers anxiety and feelings of depression, and even reduces the frequency of panic attacks. One reason for this is likely due to the rhythmic breathing that's an integral part of all types of yoga, says Matthews.
2. Hard-core cardio.
The exact reason for the feel-good "runner's high" that you get during aerobic exercise isn't known, but any kind of movement that really gets your blood pumping, such as spinning, dancing, swimming or running, have been shown in studies to reduce anxiety and stress.