How to Do Low-Intensity Exercise to Relieve Stress and Stay Active

Dancing is low-intensity exercise that releases ‘feel-good’ hormones (Picture: Supplied)

AMRAP, WOD, EMOM – fitness these days couldn’t be more confusing. One day we are being sold the virtues of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), the next day we are being told that LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) is the best.

According to the NHS, adults aged 19-64 should get at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. But if you’re struggling to achieve that goal and feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with exercise, you may have lost sight of what’s important.

Every type of movement can have a positive mental and physical impact. Movement is medicine. It can improve our mood, help us function better, sleep better, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. From bustling and walking to resistance training and running, you don’t have to be an obsessive athlete to reap the health benefits of movement.

Just move your body to improve your mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood, while improving self-esteem and cognitive function. The physical benefits include healthy joints, strong bones, improved strength, and good cardiovascular health. With that in mind, we asked four experts to share their movement methods – in the hope that they’ll also inspire you to move.

Movement is medicine

Emma Marshall leads a dance class surrounded by trees

Emma Marshall leads a grounded and anti-stress dance session (Picture: Supplied)

Emma Marshall is the founder of the Movement Is Medicine method (, which incorporates somatic meditation, Qigong, tapping, breathing, primal restlessness and ecstatic dance. The idea is that you listen to your body, find where you store stress and release it.

Emma’s sessions begin with somatic meditation to ground you, followed by flowing movement. “I guide participants to work on their own bodies, focusing on the senses, learning to detect where they are holding stress, tension or emotions and using their own power to release it,” she says. “The goal here is to get out of the thinking mind and into the body. Meditation is any practice that takes you out of the thinking mind.

“When we’re here, we’re in a parasympathetic nervous system response, also known as ‘rest and digest’. This is where the mind and body can function optimally and recovery is faster.

Then we get up, the music changes tempo and we move into primal shaking, Qi Gong and free form movement to tribal and Latin house, drums and bass etc. Dancing is a low-intensity form of exercise, so it releases those feel-good hormones, helping to decrease stress and boost self-esteem.

“People are now looking for what makes them feel good, not what makes them look good. When people are shaking and finding freedom of movement, they can feel a bit silly or embarrassed, so I ask them to close the eyes. “It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel.”


Portrait of Cody Mooney

Cody Mooney’s training method merges a number of exercise modalities (Picture: Supplied)

Cody Mooney is Performance Director for Pliability (, a human movement brand that uses evidence-based disciplines and merges yoga, pre-education, rehabilitation, recovery, mindfulness, strength, targeted body maintenance and guided breathing . He says the movement doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be consistent.

“Drawing attention to these areas creates a foundation for healing, education, and recovery that results in more than just training benefits,” says Cody. “I believe that as a society we have strayed too far from our roots. Being in nature, eating what we grow, human interaction and so on all make us feel human. The same thing happened with the movement and we now rely too much on electric bikes, cars, scooters and elevators. We’ve found ways to make your life easier.

“So one of my main goals through our platform is to promote consistency, longevity, and education around the movement. From a training perspective, I believe functional fitness is the best form of movement because it is the broadest and most diverse, with movement through a full range of motion.

Cody says even the smallest amount of movement can start healthy habits.

“Fitness has been hyped and turned into a ‘sport.’ humans and has far greater consequences.The more we move, the more aware we become of our bodies, which promotes consistency, longevity and education.


A group of women dashing to the side on yoga mats

Movementum is a mix of mindfulness, breathwork and stretching (Image: Supplied)

Stephen Price is the founder of Movementum (, a new movement health brand based at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London.

It combines movement with mindfulness, breath work and behavior change to help people live better lives by moving more. Stephen calls it a “unique ecosystem” because in addition to offering classes and spa treatments, it has its own line of body products to improve movement and muscle health.

“We are committed to helping people take control of their physical and mental health,” he says. “Our offerings are designed to improve physical literacy, confidence, motivation and strength while increasing neurological function, preventing injury and supporting rehabilitation. We must build bodies that will be fit for life. Whether you’re an athlete looking for a competitive edge or struggling with limited range of motion or chronic pain, our classes focus on building flexibility through assisted stretching and movement techniques. .

We know that physical activity is declining rapidly and Movementum combats this trend with its multi-faceted approach. “Awareness and education about movement health is essential if we are to slow and reverse this trend,” he adds.

“Improving our movement health not only improves our physiological health, but also our emotional and psychological health.” Every minute of movement has a positive effect on health, from improving physical performance to preventing injury and even increasing neurological function.

Primal Game

Darryl Edwards doing a kangaroo hop

Darryl Edwards created Primal Play after falling in love with his exercise routine (Picture: Supplied)

Darryl Edwards, movement coach and exercise physiologist, is the founder of the Primal Play Method ( His TED Talk “Why Training Is Not Training” has been viewed over a million times.

“Our environments have definitely eliminated movement from our lives,” he says. “If you think of children, they will happily climb, jump and roll all they can, but as adults we hardly need to move – most things can be done from our devices. ” And yet, movement positively affects every cell in our body.

“Physically, it helps prevent chronic lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Statistically, there is a 50% reduction in all-cause mortality if you avoid physical inactivity. Mentally, it reduces chronic stress and releases feel-good hormones.

Darryl Edwards helping a man balance on a horizontal pole in a park

Darryl demonstrates his playful way of keeping fit (Picture: Supplied)

Darryl created Primal Play after falling in love with his own exercise program. “I wondered when was the last time I really enjoyed movement and realized it was when I was a kid. I knew I needed to rediscover my inner child and the joy of movement .

His method incorporates the primary movement patterns we should engage in to maintain good health and vitality. Think of crawling, jumping, climbing, lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling.

“Rather than hitting the gym and doing three sets of 10s, look for ways to fit Primal Play into your day – pass people as you walk down the street and subtract points if someone passes you.” Before you know it, you’ve covered a significant distance.

“Experts say that if you sit for six to eight hours a day, which most of us do, you need an hour of exercise to counter the ill effects.” Try to keep the movement fun and enjoyable, and the movement minutes will soon add up.

Try these exercises at home

Pliability’s Cody Mooney shares his top four basic moves to incorporate into everyday life.

child pose

child pose

Child’s pose stretches the whole body (photo: supplied)

“This resting pose puts you in a position that elongates your body and helps release tension throughout the body.”

Stretching the hips and quadriceps

Stretching the hips and quadriceps

Lower back pain can be alleviated by stretching the hips and quadriceps (Picture: Supplied)

“Freeing up your hips and quadriceps can have a major benefit in significantly decreasing lower back pain.”

Quadruple stretch

Quadruple stretch

Stretching your quadriceps can help relieve knee pain (Image: Supplied)

“Releasing your quads can play a major role in releasing discomfort in your knees post-workout. Most aches and pains aren’t caused by the exact spot on the body where you feel them.

Pigeon stretch

Pigeon stretch

The pigeon stretch is good for those who sit at a desk all day (Picture: Supplied)

“Pigeon is one of the best stretches to counteract the negative side effects of sitting all day. It helps relax the muscles of the hips and lower back, for better flexibility and to reduce tension.

MORE: How to stay motivated to exercise this winter

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