Stressed? Stay cool throughout the festive period with one of these stress-relief workouts from fitness expert Dean Zwech…

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Christmas is supposed to be joyful, but it can come with its fair share of stress. Whether it’s ticking off everything on your gift list or putting together a festive feast that’s making you feel tense, stress doesn’t have to ruin your holidays.

Exercising is a great way to let off a little steam, dial down the release of the stress hormone cortisol and boost the production of mood-boosting endorphins. Indeed, some of the mental-health benefits of exercise are increased self-confidence, improved sleep and general healing from the inside-out, making you feel stronger both physically and mentally.

But which exercises are the best for combatting stress? Here, Dean Zwech, product development manager at Total Fitness, reveals his top stress-relief workouts.

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swimming stress relief workouts exercises


Swimming is a low-impact exercise which is suitable for people of all ages and physical abilities. This is because water buoyancy reduces the impact on the body, allowing you to relax and work out without feeling overexerted.

Water is also known for its tranquil qualities, which is why we are drawn to its calming nature. The colour blue has been proven to naturally promote relaxation. This makes swimming a wonderful exercise for anyone looking to combat stress. Hydro pools, in particular, help to aid recovery, as they raise your temperature and improve blood flow, speeding up the healing process.

yoga stress relief workouts exercises


Yoga is a serene form of exercise which is bound to bring a sense of Zen to your week. The calming effect that yoga offers is through its focus on conscious breathing, also called ‘pranayama’. Being able to harness the breath allows for a calmer state of mind.

The breathing techniques used in yoga are also common exercises used for relieving stress or anxiety, as being able to focus on your body allows you to detach from any external stresses and helps connect your mind to more positive thoughts.

squash stress relief workouts exercises


Squash is a game of strategy and one that requires great focus. This makes it the ideal outlet for letting go of any stressors as your focus is on the game and your opponent. It’s also a sport which can be played in pairs, providing a fantastic excuse to catch up with a friend or family member.

This energetic sport is a fun way to build up your mental accuracy as it requires quick reflexes and physical agility, as well as rapid responses and strategic thinking. As you build up your skill, you’ll also improve your balance, coordination, speed and flexibility. This enhanced physical state will help to boost your confidence.

walking woman in park winter


Walking is an ideal way to free your mind as, not only is it available to people of all ages, but it also gets you out of your surroundings and into nature. Taking time to enjoy a new environment and breathe in the fresh air will help to clear your head.

Level up your walks by taking the time to incorporate mini exercises, such as shoulder rolls, into your regime. These movements will help to alleviate tense muscles and improve your posture, making it a refreshing way to unwind on-the-go.

t'ai chi

T’ai Chi

Commonly known as a form of martial arts, t’ai chi has evolved into a meditative exercise. It promotes calmness through the use of gentle, flowing movements accompanied by deep breathing. The combination of slow, mindful breaths and movements help to improve sleep. Plus, they are also beneficial to the nervous system, as they stimulate the release of mood-boosting hormones.

Read next: Frankie Bridge: ‘Exercise helps keep my anxiety at bay’