Exercise To Reduce Stress In The UAE

Beat stress and create a calm, more relaxed you. Exercise and working out with a PT in the UAE can help whether stress if related to work, lifestyle or other factors.
Exercise To Reduce Stress and Anxiety In Abu Dhabi, Dubai - UAE

How can exercise and training help reduce stress in the UAE?

Article Contributor: Andrew

Stress affects men and women of all ages in the UAE at some point in their lives and while short periods of stress are often unavoidable long term stress needs to be addressed for both physical and mental health reasons.

Whether stress is acute or chronic there is evidence that taking regular exercise at home, the gym or even outdoors can help to reduce and even eliminate stress.

In this article we hope you will find some useful information about how you can combat stress but it should also be pointed out that if you suffer from chronic stress because of your lifestyle you should also speak with a medical professional who can provide beneficial advice and tips about lifestyle changes.

Table Of Contents

What is stress?

Stress manifests itself in many different ways. Even if you think you’re the most chilled out person in the world, stress can often either hit you quickly or gradually creep into your life.

Stress is often described as physical or emotional tension that affects people in different ways. Some get angry, others get nervous or frustrated. People who are usually calm and collected might find themselves short tempered, unable to deal with everyday tasks like they normally would or even feel like they are on an emotional rollercoaster.

Because the term ‘stress’ is widely used it’s difficult to put these emotional and physical changes into one category – everyone feels the effects of stress differently.

How you handle stress depends on the type of person you are. Some people get stressed very easily while others tend to brush off stressful situations with little or no impact.

What Causes Stress?

Stress is not a new condition. Many people in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will say that modern life is more stressful than times gone by but the fact of matter is stress has always been a part of life. How we understand and deal with stress has changed though (for the better)

In its simplest form, stress is caused by a chemical reaction in the brain when stress hormones are released into the body. It’s the ‘fight or flight’ response that causes the breath to quicken, the heart to start beating faster and the muscle to get ready for action.

This reaction is not always a bad thing, for example, some people say when they are stressed (temporarily) at work they perform better.

However, when the body is constantly bombarded with this stress response it can take its toll on the body, both mentally and physically.

Stress can be caused by many different things

  • Work – Whether you love your job or not, work related stress is a big problem. According to an article in Corporate Wellness Magazine  work related stress can lead to chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disease, mental health issues, chronic pain and much more.

    Work related stress causes numerous work days to be lost on an annual basis in the UAE which is why many employers are now actively involved with personal trainers and fitness companies who specialise in corporate wellness programs.
  • Lifestyle – Your lifestyle choices can cause significant amounts of stress on a day to day basis. Unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, late night partying and more when done consistently will eventually lead to both physical and emotional stress.

    The odd late night or junk meal isn’t going to do any harm but when these habits are your way of life you will suffer from stress related disorders at some point.
  • Worrying – Life would be so much easier if we didn’t worry at all but more often than not life without some sort of worry seems impossible.

    However, there are exercises you can do and lifestyle management courses you can take that really can help reduce stress associated with worrying about this that are outside of your control.
  • Personal Life & Family – Family life can lead to stressful situations. Whether it’s an argument you had with your spouse last week or even a death in the family. These highly stressful situations are hard to avoid but as mentioned above, exercise programs can really help.
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What effect does stress have on the body?

Being (and feeling) stressed can cause minor and major health conditions depending on the level of stress and also whether it’s considered to be acute (short term) or chronic (long term).

Your age and other underlying conditions can also make stress worse.

Stress related physical conditions include:

  • Tension headaches both mild and severe
  • Stomach cramps caused by too much cortisol
  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • Long term tiredness and general fatigue
  • Problems sleeping
  • Weakened immune system
  • Heartburn and stomach ulcers
  • High blood pressure
  • Risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease


As well as physical conditions, on-going stress can cause mental health problems including:

  • Long term anxiety
  • Depression
  • Inability to make clear decisions
  • Distancing from family and friends
  • Problems dealing with anger


There are studies like the one found here that show long term stress can cause structural changes in the brain leading to mental health issues in adults.

The long term effects of stress on the body vary from person to person but anyone who has suffered from stress for a longer period of time will know that it can have such a negative effect on daily life and family life.

Stress & Exercise

How does exercise help reduce stress?

So many studies have shown over the years that exercise has a positive effect on reducing stress levels.

When we say exercise we don’t just mean physical activity in the gym or at home. Even taking a walk in the fresh air in the UAE can significantly make you feel better if you feel your stress levels are getting high.

However, if you suffer from chronic stress due to work, family or other lifestyle factors including a fitness program into your daily routine can do wonders for your physical and mental well-being.

According to a stress related article from the Mayo Clinic (a health related website) doing regular exercise can help the brain to release ‘feel good’ endorphins which in turn help combat the physical and mental feelings you get when you are stressed.

Types of exercise that you can do in Abu Dhabi or Dubai to help reduce stress

It’s clear to see with so many studies and research topics about the links between exercise and reducing stress that nearly all forms of exercise provide some degree of help. However, some exercise and training methods are better than others.

It’s not difficult to find a personal trainer in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Sharjah who can help you create a training plan to reduce unwanted stress in your life.

As well as helping you feel ‘more chilled’ exercise in general will only have positive effects in the rest of your life too – definitely a ‘win win’ situation.

Let’s take a look as some of the more popular exercise methods men and women in the UAE use to get rid of unwanted stress.


Say you’re stressed to a friend and it’s highly likely they will suggest Yoga. There’s good reason why Yoga is associated with reducing levels of stress.

Yoga is well known for being a ‘relaxation exercise’ That might sound confusing because many people in the UAE associate the word exercise with physical and demanding activity.

While Yoga does of course incorporate physical activity in its various styles and poses (asanas) Yoga teaches you how to be calm and centered. This has a tremendous effect on stress levels which is why it’s doubtful you’ll ever come across a stressed Yoga Guru.

Several studies, including one cited here found that practicing yoga reduced stress levels, high anxiety and even helped people cope with challenging situations better.


So how does Yoga help you reduce stress?


  • Yoga helps you relax more

  • Yoga promotes steady, deep breathing which is a well known method of calming down

  • Sleep patterns are much improved when you practice Yoga on a regular basis

  • Yoga can help you deal with tough situations in a calmer, relaxed way

  • Chronic pain can cause stress levels to increase. The pain and discomfort caused by conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia and more can be reduced which ultimately reduces stress caused by chronic pain

  • If you find you get easily frustrated or wound up in certain situations Yoga will help you handle these situations better


Yoga is also a gentle, low impact exercise which means it can be done by all ages from kids to seniors and is ideal for pre and post natal women too.

Boxing, Kickboxing & Martial Arts

Boxing, kickboxing and martial arts in Abu Dhabi or Dubai are great ways to get and stay in shape there’s no doubt about that. However, these contact sports and their training methods they use are surprisingly good for stress management too.

How does boxing, kickboxing or martial arts training help with reducing stress and anxiety?


  • Stress relief. Because boxing and kickboxing are very energetic fitness methods they help the body to release feel good chemicals. This in turn helps you feel great which is the opposite of how you would be feeling if you were stressed.

  • Anger management. Stress can lead to anger and vice versa. Punching a boxing bag or practicing your kickboxing moves helps to release any pent up anger that has been hanging around during the day. Practicing with a boxing coach or kickboxing personal trainer allows you to use up any built up anger in a safe environment without hurting yourself or others.

  • Better sleep. Any kind of high energy exercise like boxing or kickboxing uses up huge amounts of energy. This means you are far likely to be too exhausted to worry about stress which will lead to a much better night’s sleep.

  • A sense of empowerment. Chronic stress can make you feel that you’re not in control on a daily basis. For some people it can really have a negative impact on their self-worth. Boxing and kickboxing do provide a great sense of self-empowerment which in turn can lead to much more self-confidence.


You don’t need to be strong, in perfect condition or even in peak physical condition to be able to enjoy boxing and other martials arts as a way to stay in control when it comes to stress. A great boxing coach or kickboxing personal trainer in Abu Dhabi or Dubai will start your sessions off from a very basic level.

Zumba & Dance Fitness

Ever noticed how dancing can make you feel great? Even if your moves on the dancefloor aren’t what they used to be you can still get that great feeling for a high energy dance fitness class like Zumba, Aerobics or Step.

Generally, when we dance we feel happy. This happy feeling helps to counteract feelings of stress and anxiety. With a good Zumba class you might not be dancing the night away but you’ll definitely be dancing the stress away!

Not only will you be releasing lots of feel good chemicals when you start Zumba training in the UAE but you’ll be improving your overall fitness levels too.

No matter what age you are or what your current fitness level is Zumba personal training or a group dance fitness class is ideal because it can be tailored to your needs.


  • Zumba and Aerobics are cardio based exercise programs which get your heart rate up and increase your breathing rate. This might sound similar to what stress actually does but the difference is the happiness factor and the release of endorphins which make you feel good.

  • Stress often manifests itself in aches and pain – chronic and acute. Tight muscles and stiffness in the joints can be hard to deal with on a daily basis but an aerobic exercise class can in fact help to loosen you up.

  • A typical Zumba or dance class or personal training session lasts an hour. This is plenty of time for any stress to be danced away. It also means you’ll get a great night’s sleep too.

Other exercise and fitness methods to help combat stress in the UAE

Although we’ve only gone into detail with a few stress relieving fitness options above there are plenty of others you can try. The great thing about exercise for stress relief is that you can choose the ones you like doing best.


  • Sports – whether it’s football fitness or training for a triathlon in the UAE playing sports regularly really will help get those stress levels down. Group sports are ideal because they also bring an element of fun and companionship to your exercise.

  • HIIT – there are many cardio programs available to help tire you and also increase your fitness levels. TABATA, CrossFit, Bootcamp and more.

  • Running – Whether it’s on a treadmill or the great outdoors running really does allow you to run off the stress and anxiety. Being outdoors has been proven time and time again to help with stressful situations so whenever possible get your trainers on and get outdoors.

  • Walking – Although it might not feel like it walking is actually doing exercise. The faster you walk the better it can be but even a gentle stroll in the park with family or friends will help.

  • Swimming – Another great low impact exercise to help control stress is swimming. You can decide how intensive or gentle it can be.

  • Bodybuilding – Building muscles might seem a strange way to reduce stress but working on your physical appearance is a great confidence booster. Especially if you stress out about your appearance.

In Summary.....

There are definite links between stress, mental health and exercise. If you feel that stress in any form is taking its toll on your physical and mental well-being try different types of exercise and see how you feel.

You might be surprised that just a couple of sessions per week can put you in a much better place – physically and mentally.

If you need help deciding on what type of fitness routine would be best for you the male and female personal trainers and sports coaches on the UAE Personal Trainers website are ready to help with a free consultation.

Find the best male or female personal trainer in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman or RAK.

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