I’ve seen as many clients in a clinical therapy setting as I have in a personal training setting. And most of my clients in both settings have benefitted from following a consistent fitness routine. This is probably one of the reasons I love being a therapist and a personal trainer. Taking care of your body via healthy eating and consistent exercise can be a big mood booster, so much so that I’ve seen it replace the need to take medications in several of my clients. (Please check with your physician if you’re contemplating stopping your prescribed medicine.)
There are a number of workouts that can alleviate a multitude of symptoms such as anxiety, anger, depression, distractibility and stress. Let’s go over a few of these workouts and discuss how they can be a dramatic mood booster.
Mood Booster Workouts
MMA/Kickboxing: I’m a big advocate of expressing oneself. If you’re angry, you shouldn’t stuff it in…or you might explode! But I do want my clients to know how to channel their anger in a healthy and productive manner. Participating in MMA or kickboxing classes gives you a safe environment in which to let this anger and frustration out, alleviating your tension and possibly preventing you from taking your anger out in a harmful way.
Weightlifting: Several studies show that a good lifting session can improve focus and reduce distractibility almost instantaneously. If you’re feeling scattered and having trouble focusing on your daily to-do lists, I’d recommend a good workout in the gym. Pick up those weights and push your muscles. Focus on your breath, form and overall movement so you can harness your “ping-pong” thoughts in a beneficial way.
Running: Sometimes we get so overwhelmed in life that we feel stuck or stagnant. A great remedy for this sensation is to get outside and move. Go for a jog or even get on a bike. The point is to move your body in a positive way, accomplish a small goal such as finishing your workout, and get some fresh air to reset your brain. The rush of endorphins you’ll experience during your cardio session will also leave you feeling hopeful and capable of changing your current mood or situation.
Group exercise classes: I know many of you are intimidated by group exercise classes or don’t find them beneficial for your specific needs. But we as humans really benefit from being around like-minded healthy people. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as social anxiety, depression or isolation, you could improve your mood simply by joining a regular group exercise class. It might be uncomfortable at first, but if you can persist, you could leave class with a lighter mental load and a boost of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin.
Bottom line: Workouts are a huge mood booster. I truly haven’t met many people who leave a workout in an emotional state worse than they came with. It can be really difficult to get up and move when you’re feeling crummy, but I promise you that relief is waiting just around the corner (or local gym, for purposes of this article).