Can you feel it at the moment? If you have been reading this or other blogs, or even better a book, for more than 6 minutes, then your stress levels should have been reduced by 68%. This is the implication of research carried out by the university of Sussex which found reading to be the most relaxing of pastimes, even more so than listening to music, having a cup of tea or going for a stroll. A group of volunteers were made to do exercise and then immediately afterwards were made to engage in the above mentioned activities. Six minutes later their heart rates and muscle tension was measured. Slow walking brought about an improvement of 41%, having a hot drink made a 54% difference, music chilled them out by 61% but the biggest result was after reading, which led to a 68% decrease in tension levels.
As a personal trainer I deal with lots of stressed out people who often find getting a balance between work and home life difficult, and this new research fits in with advice that I give clients; no matter how busy you are, or think you are, taking 20 minutes a few times a week solely for you and no one else is extremely important. Not only will it make you more relaxed, but it will improve your efficiency and success in all the other areas of your life, from work to family relationships. You might think “I can’t just take 20 minutes of, this needs doing or that needs doing, but that 20 minutes will make you better at getting through everything you do, and give you a calmer and more positive perspective. Remember also that structured exercise is also a great weapon against tension and negativity.