Because we are all seasoned-students at this point, we know a thing or two about stress. Stress is a part of life, but learning to deal with and manage that stress is what’s important. When we learn to cope, we will reduce our overall stress levels and its negative effects on our physical and mental health. There are several ways to reduce stress, but today, we’re going to focus on one that has lots of scientific and evidential backing – exercise! And luckily for us SMU students, there are plenty of fitness opportunities both around campus and around Dallas. By taking advantage of these fitness opportunities, you’ll be on your way to reducing and healthfully managing your stress levels.

Before we get into all the ways you can break a sweat, let’s briefly touch on some of the benefits of exercise for stress relief:

  1. Boost those endorphins! – these ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters are elevated during exercise and are sure to give you a boost in mood
  2. Increased blood flow to the brain and body – by increasing your circulation, you are increasing the amount of oxygen, glucose, vitamins, and other nutrients to your brain, thus allowing for greater activation and stimulation which can lead to an improvement in stress levels
  3. Take a Break – Exercise can provide you with a much needed break from studying. By concentrating on exercise, you force your brain to focus solely on the activity at hand and not the stress-inducing project, assignment, life event, etc.

Now that you understand some of the benefits, let’s dive into the ways you can actually break a sweat and reap some of the benefits of exercise for stress relief.

Dedman Center

Image of the outside of Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports

The Dedman center for Lifetime Sports is right on our doorstep as SMU students and provides plenty of resources to get a good workout in. In addition to the multiple cardio and weight machines that Dedman has, they also offer a variety of instructor lead workouts from HIIT training, to barre, and Zumba classes. (Here’s a schedule for all the classes offered!)  You can also make your way to the top of the rock climbing wall or take a dip in the indoor lap pool. And if you’re feeling competitive, you can always join in a game of basketball, volleyball or racket ball

Crisp and Green

group of people after finishing a workout

Crisp and Green? The salad place in Snider plaza? Yup! On select Saturdays and Sundays, Crisp and Green hosts instructor-lead fitness classes for any and everyone – free of charge! Workout, and then refuel with a healthy and hearty salad afterwards. The next workout session will be on November 13th. Click here to view the schedule of workouts. 

Barry’s Bootcamp

Inside Barry's Bootcamp

Looking to get a serious, no bullsh*t workout in? Look no further than Barry’s Bootcamp. This intensive fitness class located uptown combines treadmill-based HITT with functional weight training for a killer workout. You may be cursing yourself (or the instructor) during the class, but you certainly won’t regret it afterward as those endorphins rush through you! This class is certainly one of the best ways to reduce stress as there won’t be much to focus on besides getting through the class! Click here for Dallas Studio information.

Lync Cycling Studio

Three women jumping outside Lync Cycling Studio

If you’re tired of the Rec Center but still want to stay close to campus, then check out Lync Cycling Studio. Lync is located right in snider plaza, allowing for great proximity to campus. And after you’re done spinning your heart out, you can head a few doors down to Nekter to grab a post-workout smoothie, açaí  bowl, or juice. Sounds like the perfect study break! Click here to check out their website for prices and class schedules.

*Group fitness classes are a great way to ensure you’ll get in a good workout, but prices can definitely start to add up. If you are looking to commit to group fitness classes, check out ClassPass. ClassPass is an app that gives you access to almost every fitness and health related experience in your city at a greatly reduced price – a total win!

Take a Walk

People on a walk in nature

Sometimes, the simple act of taking a long walk can work wonders for our mental health and stress levels – not to mention, it’s free. As SMU students, we have the luxury of being located right in the center of the beautiful Highland Park area. With plenty of sidewalks, ponds, and parks, Highland Park is a great place to take a stroll while you listen to a podcast or music, call a friend, or just completely de-connect and take in the scenery.

So if you find yourself getting overwhelmed with midterms, school work, or whatever else life throws at you, get up and move your body with one of these 5 ways to reduce stress with exercise.

For more ways to deal with stress that don’t have to do with exercise, check out this CCPA article detailing with methods to cope with stress

Or check out this article all about the benefits of screaming to reduce your stress!