The Best Exercises to Boost Your Mood

Do you need a quick pick-me-up? Normally, people grab another cup of coffee when they want to boost their mood. After all, there's something comforting about a warm beverage. But then you have to deal with all the caffeine that will keep you up at night. We're going to change the pace and discuss the best exercises to boost your mood.

But first, just so you can see how effective exercise can be for your mood, we're going to walk you through a few studies showing how getting moving can boost your mood.

Does Exercise Really Boost Your Mood?

the best exercises to boost your mood elderly person jogging outside with a huge smile

Absolutely! Many people fight going to the gym, a walk in the park, or even doing yoga, but they're doing their mood an injustice. 

Meta-analysis studies show that people with depression can improve their symptoms by 67% to 74% just by getting moving. Why? That's still up for debate. However, we have many hypotheses on why this may occur, including the endorphin hypothesis, which suggests that since your body produces more endorphins when exercising, your mood improves.

And this makes a lot of sense. Endorphins have been tied to:

  • Relaxation
  • Positive mood

However, we want to point something very important out to you before explaining a few of the fun and exciting exercises you can try. Mainly, don't do an exercise that you absolutely despise if you're trying to boost your mood.

For some of these exercises, people will get depressed just thinking about them.

If an exercise fits into that category for you, skip to the next. However, if you dislike all forms of exercise, seriously try finding something that works for you. The mood-boosting power of exercise is just too good to miss out on.

6 Best Exercises to Boost Your Mood

1. Yoga

Yoga isn't just for women, so if you're reading this and writing off yoga without giving it a try, you might want to think again. Many fitness gurus will start to feel their muscles shake and sweat pour down their back when doing vinyasa yoga.

However, there are other forms of yoga that are less taxing that you can try.

In fact, here are a few great YouTube channels to check out to learn yoga:

If you don't like any of these channels, you'll find an endless supply of others on YouTube that you can follow.

Also, studies suggest that yoga can improve wellbeing on top of:

  • Reducing anxiety
  • Destroying depression
  • Helping people with PTSD 

2. Walking

A simple 10- to 15-minute walk is all that most people need to boost their mood. If you can ditch the treadmill and take a walk in nature, a bit of forest bathing will boost your mood even further.

Walking helps to:

  • Increase circulation
  • Boost blood flow to the brain
  • Reduce stress response
  • So much more

When you need a mood boost, go for a brisk walk, and you'll be happy that you did.

3. Resistance Training

Resistance training covers so many forms of exercise, from barbells and dumbbells to kettlebells and even resistance bands. If you don't have any equipment, bodyweight exercises will work, too.

We won't go into specific exercises in resistance training to boost your mood because we could write a novel on it.

Instead, we are going to cover a few studies showing how resistance training improves mood:

  • 2015 study showed that 50 minutes of activity twice a week over a period of six weeks was able to reduce stress and distress while enhancing a person's overall mood.
  • 2004 study found that resistance training three times a week significantly improved the mood of older adults.

You'll find many other studies that back these claims, too.

4. Swimming

the best exercises to boost your mood father and sons swimming playing in the pool for a mood boost

Do you like to swim? If so, you're in for a treat. Swimming by itself floods the body with endorphins that make you happier, reduce anxiety and depression, and also help make you sleep better.

If you can take a few laps in an outdoor pool or at the beach, we have some good news again: the sun helps boost your mood, too.

5. Running

Have you ever heard of the term "runner's high?" If not, you have now! The term is popular among runners because they find that running drastically improves their mood. When endorphins release super-fast, anxiety and stress seem to melt away and mood improves.

Part of this mood improvement is surely endorphins, but running also forces more blood into the brain, adding to the "feel-good" response that people love.

Of course, if running makes you want to cry because it's not your thing, there's no law saying that you need to do it. However, if you want to rapidly increase your overall mood, you might want to go for a run, even if it's not your favorite activity in the world.

6. Chair Exercises

If you're older or suffer from limited mobility, don't fret – you can exercise, too. Chair exercises are an excellent option for you and offer many of the same great benefits listed above. In addition, you can do exercises with or without weight - it's really up to you.

However, we do know that weight training has been studied and is a mood booster.

You can begin with a few exercises, as seen in the videos below:

The best exercises to boost your mood can be mixed with other alternatives, such as crystals (Turquoise and Rose Quartz work great), aromatherapy and so many others!

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