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Combating Stress with Exercise

A step-by-step approach to learn how exercise can help you with stress. Follow these simple suggestions and you will not only become healthier, but you will be able to counteract the negative effects of stress. This is just one of many articles in our 'Guide' section available to members either as part of a personal membership plan or through a customisable corporate wellbeing program.

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Combating Stress with Exercise

Are you one of those people who lays out their exercise gear before going to bed, only to roll over for a sleep in when the alarm goes off? Or tell yourself that you’ll start an exercise program tomorrow, yet tomorrow never comes.

This has happened to us all but shouldn’t deter us getting healthy and well. It is a good idea to make small changes. The research suggests that regular cardiovascular workouts four times a week for 20 to 30 minutes per session, and resistance training four times a week for 20 to 25 minutes per session are beneficial. This approach helps provide a one-two punch, incorporating aerobic exercise and resistance training which, combined, will assist in fat burning and increase oxygen, and increase lean body mass.

This is an example of a straightforward exercise program that may work for you (of course consult your health care professional before commencing any exercise regime):

4 suggested daily activities to get started

Warm Up

Seven to eight minutes of easy aerobic activity intended to increase blood flow and warm-up your muscles.

Resistance Training

Train all the main muscle groups. One to two reps of each exercise. Rest 45 seconds between reps.

Aerobic Exercise

Pick two activities, i.e. running and cycling, but whatever you like and will commit to doing. Complete 12 to 15 minutes of the first and continue with 10 minutes of the second activity. Cool down during the last five minutes.


The nicest part of any exercise routine. Don’t finish up without stretching and relaxing.

Be Realistic!

When starting an exercise program, it’s important to be realistic about your expectations. The length of time it takes to achieve your desired result will depend your fitness level when you begin and of course how much effort you put it. Once you’ve committed to an exercise program that works for you, begin to review your diet. Counting calories can be impractical and quickly loses its attraction. Instead, you might try these easy-to-follow guidelines:

  • Eat a few small meals and a couple of small snacks during the day
  • Ensure every meal is balanced -- include proteins - lean meats, fish, eggs and dairy products, carbohydrates - whole-wheat bread and pasta, wild rice, multigrain cereal and potatoes, and vegetable and fruits
  • Limit your fat intake to only what's necessary for flavour
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water during the day
  • You might also take a multi-vitamin each day so you are getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Remember we all fall of the exercise wagon, lost motivation, binged on ice-cream and missed your morning alarm. But keep trying and start with small changes.

Good luck!

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