Fitness: Stress Fuel Workouts! | Great Health Guide
Fitness: Stress Fuel Workouts!

Fitness: Stress Fuel Workouts!

This article is written by Kat Millar and is taken from the upcoming Great Health Guide (May 2016 – issue 11).

Fitness: Stress Fuel Workouts! written by Kat Millar

Have you ever felt so mad that you wanted to punch something? Or perhaps punch someone? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics survey in 2014-15, there were over 400,000 reports of physical assault in Australia in just one year. Sad statistics. There’s even a Facebook group ‘People I Want to Punch in the Throat’ that has nearly 250,000 likes. We can’t, of course, go around punching every person who annoys us. We must control our frustration and redirect it constructively. This is where exercise can come in.

So if you can halt the emotion when it’s at that frustration stage before it leads to anger, by exercising instead, then this is clearly a much healthier option to many alternatives. And although hitting a punching bag may not solve your problems, countless people have found that taking up boxing on an on-going basis helps reduce frustration and excess cortisol (a stress hormone).

I’ve been fascinated with hitting objects since I started doing Les Mills Body Combat ™ classes many years ago. I loved punching and kicking in time to the music and the sound effects. From there, I decided I also wanted my hands and feet to connect with something while I was exercising and I took up boxing. I completed the Les Mills Bodybox™ certification, having no idea how helpful the qualification was going to be to me as a personal trainer. 

Dozens of my clients started to request more and more boxing sessions, saying things like ‘I really need to release stress’ and sending me texts such as ‘I can’t wait to imagine my boss’s face on your boxing mitt tonight’. Despite being someone who hates violence, I can understand to a degree how this can develop. 

Frustration often leads to some of the most satisfying and productive training sessions. You can use these seemingly negative feelings to fuel your work out. I find it extremely satisfying to connect my gloves with solid punches to a bag or mitt; the best sessions usually being found after a bad day. 


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According to an article in Psychology Today, despite popular belief, using ‘venting’ techniques such as pillow-pounding or screaming is, in the long run, ineffective at controlling anger. The article explains that the solution to anger is not to hit a punching bag. This does not help anger, resentment or bitterness to disappear. But it will likely provide some momentary release of tension. 

I agree. After an exercise session, the problem still remains. However, your physiology and often your perspective have changed. This can lead to a calmer state in which to more intelligently approach your problem. 

And it’s not just boxing that has this effect. Playing the drums, hitting a tennis ball or kicking a football are also examples of great ways to release stress. Think about Newton’s third law, which states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. There’s an energy transfer happening here: energy from our body, into an object. When this is done repeatedly, it’s no wonder we feel better. 

Lifting weights and doing cardio also helps countless people to relieve frustration, stress and tension. People often find that exercise helps them get their minds off their problems and report feeling much more relaxed and calm post-workout. You can take this even further by listening to great music while you exercise. What’s great music? Whatever music motivates you. Music is another powerful fuel.

Let’s finish by talking about the long-term effects of exercise in general, when it comes to releasing anger. A study by the University of Georgia suggests that moderate exercise during or immediately after an upsetting experience can help you manage the experience of anger. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals that make you feel more positive and happy. 

A Yale study suggested that prolonged bouts of running before an upsetting experience may dampen the extremity of your emotional reaction. Along with techniques such as breathing and fresh air, a healthy workout of your choice is a wise decision if you’re frustrated or stressed. The benefits can not only help you in the long-term, but can reap a harvest of good feelings almost immediately.

In summary, there is a time to fight and a time for flight. A time for vigorous and strenuous activity and a time for passive reflection and gentle movement. The key is knowing when to use each one. 

Remember – one of the first steps in any exercise program is to have a General Medical Practitioner check your health and fitness before you commence.

Author of this article:
Kat Millar works with people globally to improve their health, confidence and energy.  Since 2003, through her coaching, training, online programs and seminars, Kat has helped almost a thousand people to achieve their goals. Kat is an award-winning figure competitor, fitness lecturer and NLP practitioner and has a passion for nutrition and behavioural psychology. Kat offers a range of programs for total body transformation and can be contacted through her website or her Facebook page.
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