Top 4 Exercises to Reduce Stress and Stave off Weight Gain

By Jessica C. | Updated: Jun 18, 2020


Stress and weight gain are closely linked. Stress can lead to feelings of depression, and emotional eating can quickly ensue. Unfortunately, the foods typically craved are exactly the kind that can lead to rapid weight gain: foods containing large amounts of sugar, which give the temporary “sugar rush” - elevating mood in the short-term.

In addition, the stress hormone cortisol also causes the metabolism to slow down and increases abdominal fat storage. Exercise - alongside a healthy diet - is the best way to lose weight. Below are a list of the top exercises you can try in order to reduce stress and stave off weight gain.

Top 4 Exercises to Reduce Stress and Stave off Weight Gain

The Plank

This methodical exercise helps relax the body and build muscle strength.

  • Get into a hands-and-knees position, making sure your hands are directly under your shoulders. Pull your shoulder blades down your back by engaging the abdominal muscles.

  • Reach one leg out and away. Then do the same for the other leg. Your head should stay in line with your spine.

  • After this, bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor. Everything should stay aligned, and your back or ribcage must not sag.

  • Now press upwards and straighten the elbows.


This relaxing exercise targets the hips, back, and shoulders. Breathe deeply throughout.

  • Lie on your stomach with legs outstretched and toes pointing towards the wall behind you. Reach your arms overhead with the palms facing each other, ensuring the head and the spine are aligned.

  • Slowly lift both legs upwards a few inches off the floor, and do the same with the arms. Make sure your head does not lift up or droop downwards, and that your back is not arched.

  • As you breathe in, lower arms and legs back to the starting position, avoiding movement in lower back or hips.


This position focuses on control, stamina, and deep breathing.

  • Lie on your back and bend your knees, keeping feet flat on the floor. Spread out arms to the side and face palms down.

  • Engaging the abdominal muscles to keep the spine in place, lift your feet off the floor so that the knees are directly above the hips and then bend them to a right angle. Hold this position for as long as you can.

  • As you exhale, raise your hips off the mat, gradually rolling up the spine as far as you can. Ensure angle of the knees does not change.

  • As you inhale, slowly lower spine and hips back to the original position.


A dance class is a great way to incorporate exercise into your life and lose weight in a fun way. It is a highly social activity and you will get an extra self-esteem boost from learning a new skill. Dance can help to build muscle and increase flexibility. There are many styles to choose from, including jazz, ballet, or salsa.

Because of the close connection between stress and weight gain, dealing with one can have a positive effect on the other. Although exercise is one of the most essential tools for staving off weight gain and reducing stress, this should go hand-in-hand with other positive lifestyle factors, such as effective stress management techniques and a healthy, balanced diet.

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