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Free exercise methods to reduce stress

November 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
With a frightening financial forecast, most of us think of turning to comfort food, alcohol, even medication to ease the pain. Here's how to stay mentally and physically strong in a weak economy.The ring of Wall Street's opening bell. Just hearing that sound makes many of us cringe. Which is why in our weak economy, health experts are saying it's time to get strong.

"Oh gosh, stress, anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, weight loss," said Dr. Leslie Seppinni.

Rather than turning to pills or alcohol, Dr. Seppinni says exercise is a better solution.

"Exercise is wonderful for the brain in terms of building those endorphins, beta endorphins, which is like running, when you feel that runner's high," said Dr. Seppinni.

Only you don't have to run to get them. From stretching to spinning, pick what comes easiest.

"Some people do better with yoga. Their mind relaxes, their body relaxes. Some people do better with circuit training, weight lifting and they keep moving," said Dr. Seppinni.

"And you know what, walking outside, swimming at the beach, taking a bike ride, that's free," said Jill Brown.

"If you can't afford a gym membership, then create group exercise in your home," said Dr. Seppinni. "Invite some of your neighbors over, invite some of your girlfriends."

Or find quality time you might be missing with your family.

"Even if it's just hiking together," said Dr. Seppinni. "You don't have to spend money to spend time together."

Southern California offers fitness parks called "World Trail" that offer stretch, strength and cardio stations.

Free Web sites like Exercisetv.tv and ShapeMagazine.com have a stable of instructors that teach basics to boot camp in the comfort of your own home. MapMyRun.com helps you choose walking, running or hiking routes close to home or office.

Both experts say keeping that fitness component as a constant also helps with having a feeling of control, something that might be missing if you're out of work or simply overwhelmed.

"The idea is to find and exercise that you feel you can master and feel successful at that increases your self-esteem every time you do it," said Dr. Seppinni.

And along with control ...

"They seem to sleep better," said Dr. Seppinni. "They're building muscle, they're losing fat and they feel better in their clothes."


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