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Stress is an everyday occurrence for most people due to deadlines to meet, traffic rush, relationships, exams etc. While some stress factors can be avoided, some are out of our control and cannot be avoided. Unavoidable stress needs to be managed. Exercise, besides helping you lose weight, is a great way to relieve anxiety and stress.  Many people may consider relaxing in front of the television, downing a bowl of ice-cream or alcohol consumption as stress relievers, but this does little to reduce the damaging effects of stress. To effectively combat stress, the body’s natural relaxation response needs to be activated. You can do this by practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, reflection, and rhythmic exercise. Exercise can decrease ‘stress hormones’ like cortisol, and increase endorphins, your body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost.  To benefit from exercise, it needs to be regular. Exercise needs to be part of a daily routine. Rather than doing more work during lunch hours, have a break by taking a brisk walk around the office or exercising at your desk. Exercise will reduce stress and reducing stress can increase your productivity. I have listed a few activities you could incorporate into your day: 1. Taking a brisk walk can help clear your mind. If you have something bothering you, you could call a friend to accompany you on your walks, that way you can exercise and talk. 2. Rhythmic exercise like zumba would engage your mind and body. 3. Working out on a punching bag. 4. Weight lifting 5. Engage in a sporting activity that interests you, e.g. swimming, tennis, football, basketball etc. 6. Running on the treadmill. Listening to your favourite playlist as you run would help motivate and relax you.       About the Writer: Ibifaka Ben-Kalio (also known as Fabila) is an energetic, fun-loving and passionate licensed Zumba Fitness, Zumba Toning and Sentao Fitness instructor. She is also a Body Barre Instructor professionally trained in Ballet and Modern Dance techniques at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, New York. A lawyer by profession, Ibifaka resigned from legal practice to pursue her passion for helping others reach their fitness goals. She is the founder of Fabila’s Fitness Club and runs a health and fitness blog in the same name. She incorporates dance techniques with aerobics and believes that exercise can be made fun.  Ibifaka has participated in a number of Fitness Conventions including the last Zumba Fitness Convention held in Orlando, Florida where she got to meet the founder of Zumba Fitness. She is the creator of Shape Up Naija Fitness Carnival, a yearly event which brings together fitness professionals and enthusiast from all around the country. Connect with her on Instagram: @fabilasfitness

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This article was first published on 3rd July 2015

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