For many folks, April is an emotionally taxing month (literally!) as we feel mounting pressure to get our IRS returns completed and submitted on time.

It may not be a coincidence that April is also National Stress Awareness Month, during which some light is shed on the dangers of unmanaged stress, as well as successful coping strategies.

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The last-minute scramble to file tax returns can put you under enormous pressure and stress. Research shows that stress, anxiety and tension can cause a host of serious medical conditions such as weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression.

But research also shows that physical activity is a great tension reducer and mood elevator.

In fact, exercise reduces stress in a number of different ways.

It releases endorphins, chemical substances known as ‘feel good’ hormones. Also, bouts of physical activity can reduce or even eliminate altogether any discomfort associated with muscular tension brought on by stress.  And, exercise keeps you energized which prevents mood slumps.

An added benefit is that while you work out you’re focused on your routine, not on whatever problems and frustrations you may be stressing over. Exercise helps put your mind at rest and your attention is on a healthy activity, not on taxes, bills, work problems, or whatever else is worrying you.

What exercises are the best stress busters?

Your routine should include these components:

Proper warm-up and stretching exercises- When you’re stressed, your muscles contract, causing aches around your neck, shoulders and back. Light stretching and mobility exercises will increase blood flow and help relax these tight muscles. A foam roller and/or tennis ball works great for this and is a quick and easy way to get a muscle-relieving, deep tissue self-massage.

Circuit or high-intensity interval training- Alternating quick bursts of activity with short rests in between will improve your mood by quickly pumping up your endorphin levels.

Deep breathing is also a good stress reliever. It increases your energy levels and relaxes your muscles. Breathing exercises can be done anywhere, anytime.

Remember: stress is dangerous to your health, and not just around tax time. Incorporating stress and tension-reducing exercises into your regular routine all year long will help keep you feeling and looking your best!


Being Fit and Healthy Requires Commitment and Action!

Clint Howard, MS is the Founder/Director of Tulsa Fitness Systems located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Clint has a bachelors degree in Health & Exercise Science and a masters degree in Exercise Physiology, both from the University of Oklahoma. Clint is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength & Conditioning Association and American College of Sports Medicine and is also a Certified Boot Camp Instructor through the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association.