If you’re wondering how you can naturally boost your mood and increase your energy, the answer may be to get moving. Studies have shown that exercise improves not only mental health but it can also promote relaxation.1 Even better–you don’t need to be a professional athlete or exercise-pro to reap the benefits.
How exercise improves your mood
Wondering what simple activities can help you feel great? We’ve rounded up 7 exercises that may help lift your spirits and explain how each exercise improves mood differently.
How does exercising improve your mood?
Regular exercise may give you a mood boost and improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety.2 When you break a sweat, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins that enhance your sense of well-being. Getting active can also take your mind off of worries and help to relieve stress.3
What’s more, exercise may also help improve self-confidence.4 Along with boosted positive body image, there have also been findings of increased self-esteem.4 And the benefits of exercise don’t stop there, by breaking a sweat on a regular basis it allows you the chance to meet new people and socialize with friends.
Getting active is a great outlet to work out any stress you may be experiencing and can help with depression.5
Once you get into the routine of working out, whether a daily walk or workout class, you’ll likely start to notice a difference in how you feel – for the better.
Read on as we explore 7 different types of activities and the benefits of each.
#1. Yoga to decrease anxiety
The benefits of yoga go beyond increasing your flexibility – it may also help reduce anxiety.6
A study analyzed the anxiety levels of people who practiced yoga for at least one hour, three times a week. The results revealed that yoga is associated with increased levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric), which is an amino acid and neurotransmitter that can help decrease anxiety.7 One of the reasons could be due to the slow, deep breathing that is so vital to the practice. If you’re not up for an entire yoga class, even simple stretches along with mindful breathing could be beneficial.
#2. Tai Chi to reduce stress
Yoga isn’t the only stress-buster on the block. The ancient Chinese martial art of Tai Chi may also help you stress less.8
Tai Chi involves standing and shifting your weight back and forth while engaging the muscles in your lower and upper body and breathing rhythmically. Multiple studies have found that the slow and fluid movements help your muscles and mind relax.9 Think of it as meditation in motion. As an added benefit, Tai Chi can also help improve your balance, flexibility and strength.10
#3. Pilates to improve sleep
Not being able to sleep can be frustrating, but Pilates may be able to help your mind unwind.11
Pilates is a series of strengthening exercises to help improve physical strength and mental awareness. A study performed by Appalachian State University found that Pilates can do more than tone your body. Participants who did Pilates on a mat for at least 150 minutes a week were less likely to have sleep issues.12
#4. Cycling to increase energy
You don’t need to enter the Tour de France–research shows that even short rides on a bicycle may be beneficial!13
One study found that just a single 30-minute ride on a stationary bike boosted the energy levels of participants.14 The study’s authors also recorded positive electrical changes in the participants’ brains that were related to energy. Although we often think of physical activity as being tiring, you may feel a little more energized after a workout session.
#5. Weight lifting to increase clarity
It turns out that pumping iron can not only tone your body, it may also boost your mind.15
You don’t have to curl heavy dumbbells to reap the benefits of weightlifting. A study of older adults found that performing low-intensity, weight-training exercises three to five times a week for a month, improved the participants’ cognitive function.15 The cognitive tests showed an improvement in executive function, which includes planning, behavior regulation and multitasking.
#6. Dancing to release endorphins
If you love dancing for fun, we have good news: not only can it raise your heart rate16 which helps burn calories, but multiple studies have shown music may offer a healthy escape for your mind.17
Much like a runner’s high, the rhythmic movement of dancing releases endorphins that may boost your mood. Put on some music, dance away, and see for yourself!
#7. Swimming to reduce depression
Looking for a mood-boosting exercise that is low-impact? Consider swimming which can improve your mental and physical health.18
The results of one study found that swimming had the same effect on rats as an antidepressant.19 Because swimming uses special breathing techniques and repetitive strokes, it can be meditative and potentially reduce tension.
By incorporating one or more of these exercises into your daily routine, you may boost your mood and even bring you closer to your weight loss and fitness goals.
Are you looking for a weight loss program that can help you with your eating habits as well as give you guidance on physical activity? Jenny Craig can help! View our plans to get started today!
Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig