12 Workouts to Improve Your Mood
Last Updated: May 13, 2013
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By nature, humans are moody creatures. And as much as we’d love to feel good and be happy all the time, it’s not always possible. Sometimes we’re anxious, distracted, sad, angry, exhausted, anxious or stressed out. But luckily, there's a solution when you get a case of the feels: We consulted fitness experts to find workouts that are best suited for whatever mood you might be in and how they can help you get out of it!
ANGRY? TRY KICKBOXING
Channel that red-hot anger into one fierce, calorie-torching workout with some kickboxing! “When you're mad or upset, a fabulous way to get it out is kickboxing,” says Jennipher Walters, a certified personal trainer and co-founder of the FitBottomedGirls.com. “Take all that aggression and anger and give it straight to the punching bag -- it's a truly healthy way to express it!” Contact kickboxing is best done under the supervision of a certified trainer or instructor, so look for a class or small group training session at a nearby gym. Or try a DVD at home that’s non-contact but features plenty of punching and kicking!
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RUSHED? TRY HIIT
“If you are feeling pressed for time, try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) to get your workout done in less time and blow off steam,” says Chris Freytag, a certified national fitness expert and American Council on Exercise board member. After a warm-up, try alternating three minutes of steady-state effort (of about a five or six on an intensity scale of one to 10) with one minute of all-out work (at about an eight or nine effort) using your favorite mode of cardio. This technique can work with cycling, running, rowing or the elliptical. Not only will you maximize every second of your limited workout time, you’ll be putting your hurried, rushed energy to good use during each interval.
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UNCERTAIN? TRY STRENGTH TRAINING
Got a tough decision weighing on your mind? Try a good resistance-training session. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that regular strength training helped women improve their mental focus and attention. Strength training can help you feel grounded, says Stephanie Vitorino, a certified personal trainer and group exercise manager for EQUINOX fitness clubs. In addition to your brain focusing on the movement and lifting those weights, your emotions will also benefit from a sense of direction.
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ANXIOUS? TRY WALKING
Filled with nervous or anxious energy? Take a walk! “If you have a lot of nervous energy, a great way to deal with it is by, quite literally, walking it off,” says trainer Jennipher Walters. Walking for just a few minutes can calm your nerves and boost your mood, especially if you're outdoors. In fact, studies show that walking is a proven way to help lower stress levels, calm anxiety and even bolster your immune system.
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EXHAUSTED? TRY TAI CHI
A low-energy day isn’t the time to push yourself to the max during a workout. Instead, try turning your focus inward and invigorating your body with Tai Chi. Not only can Tai Chi help replenish your energy, but research shows it can also help improve your sleep quality, lower stress levels and enhance your sense of well-being, all of which may help you prevent the source of your exhaustion in the future.
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LONELY? TRY A BARRE CLASS
Up for some company during your workout? Hit the barre for a healthier happy hour! If you're feeling social and want to spend time with friends, a group fitness class is a great option, says fitness expert Chris Freytag. There’s a real sense of camaraderie and fun in this type of group setting, she says. Sweating side-by-side and commiserating together as you all “feel the burn” could help you get more out of your workout. Catch up after class at the juice bar or head out for a healthy dinner together. Studies show that having social support may make you more likely to achieve your health and fitness goals.
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STRESSED? TRY CYCLING
Hop on a bike and pedal away your cares! Cycling also helps to relieve stress, raise endorphins and give yourself time to think clearly so that you can handle stressful situations with more clarity, says trainer Stephanie Vitorino. Whether you take your bike outside and hit the trails for some fresh air or lose yourself in the driving music of an indoor cycling class, you're guaranteed to feel better once you're done. Not to mention, when you're pushing yourself up a hill and holding a pace that feels strong and powerful, you're no longer thinking of anything else except getting to the end of the road or the top of the hill, Vitorino says.
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FEELING STUCK? TRY RUNNING
Have you been trying to solve a problem or come up with a great idea for hours? Stop what you’re doing, and head out for a run, says trainer Jennipher Walters. “If you can't seem to find the right solution to a problem or your creativity has gone out the window, go for a jog,” she says. “Seriously, I can't count the number of good ideas I've had while being out for a run!” The repetitive nature of a running stride allows your brain to relax, while your body enjoys the uplifting rush of exercise-induced endorphins.
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WORRIED? TRY YOGA
Feeling apprehensive? “Om” away your worries. “Yoga is a great mind-body exercise that brings you into the present moment,” says trainer Jennipher Walters. Yoga helps quiet and calm your mind while engaging your body, making it hard to stay worried long during a practice. Through movement timed to breath, you naturally focus on the now and let the worries of what may be just melt away.” If you don’t have a yoga studio nearby, there are plenty of DVDs, YouTube videos and podcasts to choose from.
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UNMOTIVATED? TRY STAIR CLIMBING
Let your inspiration create some perspiration by tackling the stairs. Climbing stairs not only kicks your butt, says fitness expert Chris Freytag, but it also offers a great endurance challenge and burns off plenty of calories, too. Head to the stairmill at the gym or take on a few flights of stairs indoors or out -- there’s nothing like looking at the number of flights you’ve scaled to make you feel extra accomplished at the end of your workout.
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SAD? TRY DANCING
Next time you are feeling blue, turn up the radio and get moving! Upbeat music and the endorphins of exercise have both been shown to help combat feelings of depression and sadness. “When you're sad, you may not feel like dancing, but that's exactly why you should do it,” says trainer Jennipher Walters. Don’t feel pressured to head to a dance class -- dancing solo may be best for when you are down. No need to worry about what you look like or what steps to follow -- just allow yourself to let loose and enjoy the movement and the music. “It's kind of hard to feel sad when you have dance music playing,” says Walters.
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HYPERACTIVE? TRY ZUMBA
If you have energy to spare, put it to good use with Zumba, says fitness expert Chris Freytag, This dance class is filled with infectious beats that are sure to put your extra energy to work and keep it going even after the workout is over. Pop into a class near you or play Zumba Fitness on your Nintendo Wii for a super-fun, high-energy sweat session.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What do you do when you encounter negative emotions? Do you let them bring you down or do you hit the gym? Or do you have other healthy coping mechanisms? Have you ever used any of the workouts on this slideshow to combat the blues? What other workouts would you suggest? Share your thoughts, suggestions and questions in the comment section below!
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