5 of the Best Exercises to Beat Holiday Stress, According to Science

Between going to parties, shopping for last-minute gifts and tying up loose ends at the office, the holidays can quickly become stressful. Although it can be challenging to squeeze in a workout during the “most wonderful time of the year,” it turns out exercise is one of the best ways to beat holiday stress. Here are five great stress-busting activities to engage in this season.

Beat holiday stress with exercisePhoto: ShutterStock

1. Walking

There are plenty of health benefits to be gained from walking, even if you’re not quite reaching the common goal of 10,000 steps a day. Studies have shown that walking actually bolsters your defences against the negative effects of stress. When it comes down to it, any exercise that gets you outside should help relieve holiday stress and boost your mood.

2. Running

If you feel like kicking your holiday exercise regimen up a notch, a winter run can be an even better option. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that running effectively rewires your brain, promoting the building of new neural pathways that can help you become more resilient to stress. What’s more, the huge rush of endorphins can lead to the amazing “runner’s high” that pavement-pounders are always talking about!

3. Swimming

Swimming is an awesome exercise option for people who are independent and treasure their alone time. A study published in Procedia—Social & Behavioral Sciences found that adults who swam three times a week were better able to manage stress. (That’s not to mention the soothing effect of soaking in that lovely warm water!)

4. Yoga

Between the relaxing stretches and mindful breathing, yoga is a fantastic way to relieve holiday stress. A study of young adults found that people who participated in yoga reported feeling significantly less anxious, tense, depressed, angry and fatigued afterward. If you’re really feeling adventurous, turn up the heat: hot yoga classes are a great way of banishing winter’s chill!

5. Weight lifting

Feeling anxious and overwhelmed by holiday stress? Grab a pair of dumbbells. By putting heavy strain on your muscles, resistance training can actually produce even more endorphins than cardio in a shorter amount of time. Weight lifting has also been clinically shown to reduce stress and anxiety.

For more on why you should make time for physical activity during the holidays, check out ParticipAction!