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The Best Forms Of Exercise To Improve Your Mood

Hi everybody, happy Self-Care Saturday! Today we have an article for you on exercises that improve your mood. It’s a well-known fact that exercising releases endorphins, and now you can do it in even more targeted ways. It’s more important now than ever, when stress is high and the ability to get out and exercise in gyms is low, to relieve that tension in productive ways.

-Amanda, Social Media Coordinator,

By Mark Stibich, PhD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Updated on February 04, 2020

Exercise can be a great way to lift your mood and improve your ability to deal with stress. When you exercise, your body often feels more relaxed and calm, but there are mental benefits, too. Find out why exercise is beneficial, and which types of exercises are best to help balance your emotions.

How Exercise Improves Mood

When you engage in high-intensity exercise, your body and brain produce hormones and neurotransmitters that have a positive impact on your mood, memory, energy levels, and sense of well-being.1 Some of these are known as endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals. They can result in the “runner’s high” that joggers talk about. 

After a good workout, your muscles are tired, but you feel more relaxed. You may also feel a sense of accomplishment, which boosts your self-confidence and improves your sense of well-being. Thanks to your workout, the pent-up tension and stress in your muscles and your mind are reduced.

Exercise and Emotions

While exercise is not, on its own, a treatment for clinical depression, studies show that even a single bout of exercise results in positive changes in brain chemicals and can improve your mood. A 2017 review on the effects of exercise published in the journal Brain Plasticity, found that after exercise, people reported a better mood with decreases in tension, depression, and anger.

In fact, for people with mild or moderate depression, 30 minutes of daily exercise may be effective for improving mood. A review study that looked at 23 randomized controlled studies found combining exercise with conventional medication and cognitive behavioral therapy treatment for depression reduced depression symptoms even more.

More exercise isn’t necessarily going to make you happier, and as with anything, it’s possible to overdo it. For example, one of the benefits of exercise is that it stimulates cortisol production, which can help with memory and alertness. On the other hand, too much cortisol can have negative effects on your body and for your mood.

Types of Exercises to Improve Mood

When it comes to exercise, it’s crucial that you pick something you enjoy. Cardiovascular exercise is great, but if you hate swimming or running, you won’t stick with it. And when an activity is more enjoyable, chances are better for long-term adherence.

For your exercise routine, you might try a mix of solitary activities like walking, swimming, or gardening, combined with some group activities like high-intensity interval training classes or periodic group hikes or bike rides. In addition to the physical and endorphin benefits of exercise, another potential benefit of exercise is the opportunity for social interaction, which can often boost your mood just as much.

The best type of exercise to improve your mood is often a mix of activities you enjoy and are motivated to stick with for the long term.

For mood-lifting benefits, try any or all of the following activities. Some people get bored with the same exercise day after day; others relish the routine. Consider keeping the exercises you love as your anchor workouts, and then periodically swapping in other activities as your mood, schedule, or weather changes. For group classes, keep your eye open for seasonal discounts or coupon offers.

Cardiovascular and Aerobic Exercises

Cardiovascular and aerobic exercises are great for creating the intensity required for the release of mood-raising endorphins in your body. Aerobic exercises are those that get your heart rate up, like jogging, swimming, cycling, brisk walking, or using an elliptical trainer. You can also get your heart rate up by doing activities like gardening and dancing—both have been shown to reduce depression and anxiety.

If you like sports, joining a local league to play soccer, basketball, or tennis can provide social interaction while giving you a cardiovascular workout. Joining a group class that provides a high-intensity interval workout like Crossfit or boxing is another way to get your cardio in while having some fun with friends.


Yoga is a system of holistic health and spiritual growth which focuses on meditation, breathing exercises, and physical postures. Unless you’re doing an active flow or vinyasa yoga class, yoga doesn’t provide much of an aerobic workout. It can, however, teach you how to relax, release tension, stretch tight muscles, and even strengthen weak ones. Doing yoga regularly can help to ease anxiety and improve feelings of well-being. A 2016 review on the use of yoga for anxiety and depression found that the practice is beneficial for reducing anxiety, depression, and symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Tai Chi

A traditional Chinese exercise that is practiced worldwide, Tai Chi can benefit people who experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, and it has been shown to improve immune function as well as to increase the blood levels of feel-good endorphins.

Anyone can do Tai Chi because the movements are easily learned and repetitive. It doesn’t require strength or endurance but instead focuses on the form of the movements and breathing. Tai Chi is considered a self-healing practice. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the practice helps to alleviate energy blockages in the body, which helps to prevent or treat certain diseases. Research shows that Tai Chi may improve many aspects of well-being including reducing depression, anxiety, stress. and mood disturbance as well as improving self-esteem. The Benefits of Tai Chi

A Word From Verywell

There are so many benefits of exercise, which is why the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity cardio exercise plus two days of strength training exercise for all adults.8 While exercise can help to improve your mood, if you deal with severe depression or anxiety, always consult your doctor.

This article was originally posted here.

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