Everyone has their ups and downs, but low periods can be particularly damaging to your mood. And whether they’re caused by work, a move to a new city away from family, or mounting bills, prolonged periods in the doldrums can lead to depression. It’s important to participate in activities you enjoy when you’re feeling down and working out and getting your body moving can have many benefits for both mental and physical health. That said, the following are some workouts that can improve your mood and get you back to feeling like yourself again.
According to neurologist and author Chris Streeter, yoga exercises are known to increase the production of GABA which is an amino acid known to reduce anxiety. Most yoga positions also stimulate the flow of oxygen in your body, which can help revitalized your brain, heart, and other major organs. Yoga usually consists of a series of standing and forward and backward-bending movements that are performed according to a person’s ability. One effective standing Yoga exercise too stimulate your mood is the Upward Salute. Simply stand erect with your feet together and stretch both arms above your head. Touch your palms together above your head and hold that position for three to five minutes. You’ll feel a nice stretch in your spine and all over your body.
A rigorous ride on a local bike trail can definitely boost your mood. And if you don’t have a bicycle, try using a stationary bike at the gym. Pedal at a moderately fast pace to get your blood circulating, anywhere from 85 rpms on up. A recent study by the University of Georgia in Athens showed how cycling can activate neural circuits in the brain to energize the body and improve mood. Try pumping out 30 minutes on the stationary bike at least three times per week and see how your mood improves.
The stretching and resistance movements found in Pilates are usually performed on a mat. In addition to enhancing sleep, they can help improve people’s moods, according to Appalachian State University. The series of Pilates’ exercises range from just a few minutes on up to 20 minutes or more for more advanced fitness buffs. One exercise to get your blood flowing is to perform the Rolling Ball movement. Sit on a mat with both of your knees bent toward your chest. Hold onto your shins just below your knees and bend your head and back forward to resemble a ball. Slowly rock yourself forward until both feet are underneath you. Let the weight of your body pull you backward so your back and shoulders roll across the mat, then return to the start position. Keep rolling backward and forward for a minute or two.
You don’t have to spend an hour or two in the gym pumping out heavy sets to receive the mood-enhancing benefits of weightlifting. Start with a few basic movements and some light dumbbells. One exercise that works multiple muscles is the squat. Stand with two dumbbells either hanging down at each side or at shoulder level. Inhale and lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then exhale and push yourself back up. Perform one to three sets of ten repetitions. Even rehab facilities and programs like Avalon Malibu use physical fitness and weightlifting to help the mental health of their patients.
You don’t have to completely tax yourself to improve your mood by gardening. When weeding, you typically keep your knees bent while you both dig and plant and the constant walking and standing can be great for just getting off a chair and into the sunshine. Both the movements and soothing sense of being in nature can positively affect your mood.
If you start feeling down or depressed, don’t let those feelings linger. Perform one or more of the aforementioned exercises. You’ll not only start feeling better about yourself, you’ll benefit your physical health as well.