Excellent Health

How to boost your mood with exercises

How to boost your mood with exercises

Exercise not only stands out as one of the most efficient means to maintain bodily well-being, but it also serves as an innate approach to boost your mood. Engaging in routine activities such as walking or practicing yoga can alleviate the day-to-day manifestations of depression and anxiety. Moreover, consistent exercise contributes to an improvement in pain tolerance over time.

If the gym isn’t your preferred setting, there’s no need to transform into a bodybuilder to enjoy the positive effects on your physical and mental health. Chances are, you’re already incorporating some beneficial movements into your routine. Here are the key exercises to prioritize this year.

What’s the rationale behind incorporating exercise for mental well-being?

Engaging in physical activity promotes a positive sense of self. When I mention exercise, it’s not limited to gym workouts and weightlifting. Exercise encompasses any activity that gets you up and moving. Enhancing your mental wellness through physical activity doesn’t necessarily require leaving your home.

Positive impacts of exercise on your mental well-being include:

  • Enhanced body image
  • Improved mood
  • Alleviation of depression and anxiety symptoms
  • Mitigated symptoms of ADHD
  • Elevated self-esteem
  • Fostering a sense of accomplishment
  • Boosted self-confidence
  • Cultivation of a sense of pride

There isn’t a single form of exercise that guarantees good mental health. This implies that you have the freedom to discover activities that suit your lifestyle. There’s no specific benchmark to achieve—every bit of movement contributes. Researchers emphasize that increasing the amount of exercise will amplify the benefits.

Exercises to boost your mood and mental health

01. Walking

Walking is a popular choice for mental health exercise, and it’s one of my favorites due to its low impact and accessibility. It effectively alleviates stress, reduces anxiety symptoms, and fosters positive thoughts.

Optimal results are achieved by walking outdoors amidst greenery, as nature walks have been proven to lower anxiety. Even a short 15-minute walk can reduce the risk of depression by 26%, according to studies.

02. Running

For a vigorous mental health workout, consider running. Running triggers the release of endorphins, creating a ‘runner’s high’ that boost your mood. Research indicates that outdoor exercise, including running, can be a potent alternative to antidepressants.

Additionally, regular running improves sleep onset and quality, crucial for alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression.

03. Strength training

Consider strength training for the dual advantages of muscle building and mental health enhancement. It reduces the risk of depression and alleviates current symptoms, providing the satisfaction of achieving strength goals.

Strength training doesn’t necessitate a gym; you can easily build strength at home using free weights, resistance bands, or your body weight.

04. Yoga

Yoga, with its emphasis on movement, reflection, and meditation, is an excellent mental health exercise. Focused breathing in yoga helps break negative mental habits, activating the parasympathetic nervous system to induce relaxation by reducing heart rate and blood pressure.

This counters the sympathetic system’s fight-or-flight response, particularly beneficial in alleviating anxiety. The versatility of yoga provides a range of practices from calming to more physically demanding options.

05. Dancing

Dancing is a viable exercise to significantly reduce anxiety, enhance self-esteem and boost your mood. Similar to yoga, you have the flexibility to choose the style that suits you best, whether it’s tango, free-flow movement, or another type. You don’t have to visit a dance studio; virtual dance classes at home are just as effective.

If you enjoy social interactions, synchronized or choreographed group dancing, such as Zumba, can enhance the benefits and provide a unique opportunity to connect with others and build friendships.

Practical advice for initiating mental health-focused exercise

Embarking on the journey of exercise can be challenging, but these strategies can help make it a consistent part of your routine.

  • Choose enjoyable activities. Shift your perspective on exercise from a chore to a tool in your wellness journey. Pick activities you genuinely enjoy to boost your mood.
  • Set realistic goals. Avoid setting unrealistic goals that may adversely affect your mental health. Begin with achievable goals, gradually building on them. Remember, your progress is personal, with no need to prove anything to others.
  • Reward yourself. Establish a habit of rewarding yourself after completing a workout. It doesn’t have to be extravagant—something simple like an extra episode of your favorite show or a relaxing bubble bath can be motivating.
  • Socialize through exercise. If accountability fuels your motivation, turn exercise into a social activity by involving friends. It adds a social dimension to your routine and can make the experience to boost your mood more enjoyable.

While exercise is a valuable tool for managing daily mental health symptoms, it’s essential to recognize that it is not a substitute for therapy and medication when these are necessary for optimal functioning.