At some point in our lives, we’ve felt sad, stress, angry and simply down in the dumps. Usually these emotions have been tied to an event and so they tend to pass as time heals. But if you’re feeling low over a longer period, you may need to take action to boost your mood.
When it comes to mood, there are many things you can do naturally to perk yourself up. Getting proper sleep, for one, has been shown to improve mood; so have certain foods. But one thing in particular is so simple, so easy, that really you should do it every day for overall improve mood. What are we talking about? Well, exercise of course!
You may think you’re too busy, too old or just too tired to exercise, but the beauty of exercise is that even the smallest amount can improve mood. So put aside your preconceived ideas about exercise and reap its benefits for your mood.
Ways exercise can help uplift your mood
You’re a busy person, we all are. We have responsibilities and duties that often keep us away from taking the time to work on ourselves. But this is bad for our health and we really should be taking a few moments a day just for us.
Constant daily stress can put a damper on our mood, and a poor mood can lead to other issues like poor performance at work, hinder our relationships and even make us sick. So wouldn’t you want to combat this with something as simple as physical activity?
The American Psychological Association suggests that exercise improves mood and yet it’s rarely utilized by psychologists as a means of treatment. They further revealed that exercise can improve mood in as little as five minutes – and we think you all have at least five minutes a day to improve your mood!
Studies on the mood and exercise connection
There have been many long-term studies which show that generally active people are less depressed compared to inactive individuals. One major study on the mood-exercise connection comes from Duke University.
With the help of sedentary adults with major depression, the study divided these individuals into four groups: Supervised exercise, home-based exercise, antidepressant therapy and a placebo pill. The study was conducted over a four-month timespan. The results showed that exercise was as comparable to treating depression as antidepressants.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests that exercise is good for anxiety treatment. One study revealed that those who did vigorous exercise had a 25 percent less likelihood of developing depression or anxiety. But don’t feel for maximum benefits vigorous exercise is required – even brisk walks can relieve headaches.
Some other expected benefits from exercise? Well, you’re feel more confident which can also lead to a brighter more positive mood. Not only can it promote weight loss but you’ll be able to perform more tasks that maybe prior you couldn’t. Exercise also becomes a coping mechanism for stress. Less stress, healthier body, so that buys you even more years of physical activity!
Additionally, exercise can be quite social and it’s been shown that strong social ties are necessary to health. Calling up a friend can even double your health benefits and improve your mood.
So if you’re looking to relieve symptoms of depression or anxiety, exercise can definitely help. But even though we know exercise helps anxiety and improves mood, why and how does it have this effect?
Why exercise improves mood
Is it the activity itself or does it go beyond that? Well, when we exercise we’re not just working out physically, there are many things going on within our heads as well.
Generally speaking, stress is bad but stress is also necessary for the mood-boosting effects which exercise provides. When we exercise, our bodies let out stress and we enter a “fight or flight” mode. In return, the brain produces endorphins to improve performance by numbing pain. These endorphins also promote feel-good emotions – sometimes referred to as a “runner’s high.”
You may lack motivation initially, but the same endorphins which make you feel better also make you somewhat addicted. This translates to the more you exercise the more you’ll want to exercise and in turn maintain a healthy mood. Essentially, then, the hardest part is just starting. But once you do, you’ll be hooked to good feelings.
Types of exercises to improve mood
All forms of exercise can improve mood because they all release the same brain chemicals to promote feeling good. The challenge then is finding a type of exercise you enjoy, can sustain and is safe to perform.
Here are some exercises to improve mood from low-impact to most vigorous. Remember, though, always get the OK from a doctor to exercise. Depending on your age, current health status and abilities, there may be guidelines to follow.
Balancing: Depending on your abilities, an easy form of exercise are balancing techniques. It may not seem like much but a lot goes into trying to stand on one foot at a time. At first you may require the assistance of a chair or wall but as you become stronger you can ease away from objects and balance on your own.
Daily chores: You may not think vacuuming or gardening is exercise but it is. You’re still moving around, elevating your heart rate, so your brain will go to work releasing endorphins.
Yoga: There are different forms of yoga, so finding one that suits your needs will be easy. Yoga is low-impact and can further help you clear your mind and promote mood-boosting effects.
Swimming and water aerobics: Swimming is a great form of exercise because it’s low-impact on joints but can be quite intense. By visiting your local community center you can use their pool or even sign up for a water aerobics class led by an instructor to guide you.
Walking: A 10-minute walk is all it takes to start improving your mood. Pick an area where there are things to see to make your walk enjoyable and interesting. The more visual appeal, the more likely you’ll want to take a stroll.
Jogging or running: As mentioned, there is a common phrase referred to as a “runner’s high” so jogging or running can definitely improve your mood. Just remember, though, jogging and running can have a high-impact on joints, so if that is an area of concern for you, it’s best to avoid it.
Dancing: Who say exercise has to be boring? You can still have a great time and receive mood-boosting benefits from dancing. So why not put on your favorite tunes and hit the dance floor?
Weight-training: Building muscle burns fat. Burning fat leads to losing weight. Weight loss can help you feel confident and in turn improve your mood. Also, weight-training makes you stronger giving you more abilities and further independence.
When it comes to exercising to improve your mood, there is plenty of variety out there, so you can find the best form of exercise suited to your needs. Mood in itself can have a large impact on your health so compile the motivation and get active for overall good health!