When it comes to working out, many people usually do it for physical purposes. But beyond weight loss and muscle building, workouts can also provide a wealth of benefits for mental wellness. In fact, a study from the Lancet found that 1.2 million Americans who exercised regularly had better mental health, compared to those didn’t.
Sadly, being "busy" isn't a good enough excuse not to get moving. As we previously discussed on The Gym Wrapblog, exercise can even be an effective coping mechanism during your most stressful work days.
So while any exercise can potentially deliver a rush of happy hormones, some activities are more effective than others in boosting mental health. Here are some of them you can try at your next workout session.
It's no coincidence that you usually feel strong and centered after a yoga session. This has to do with yoga's emphasis on self-awareness and being in the moment, which allows practitioners to clear their head and re-align. Yoga has even been used to help bipolar disorder patients manage their symptoms, as outlined in research in The Journal of Psychiatric Practice.
Contrary to the slow, steady pace of yoga, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a series of quick and intense exercises. Each session typically lasts for around 15 to 30 seconds, followed by shorter recovery periods. HIIT requires a ton of focus – so much so that you tend to forget everything else, including the things that stress you out. By the time the endorphins hit, you won’t even remember why you were so stressed in the first place.
Whether you enjoy a game of basketball or playing soccer, team sports can definitely improve your mood. Behavioral experts at Maryville University state that humans are naturally social beings, and social connections are the foundation of every experience. It comes as no surprise that group-oriented sports can help, as they provide lots of opportunities to connect with others. Indiana University professor Jack Raglin outlines how exercising with a group can be particularly helpful for people with depressive symptoms and who feel isolated, thanks to the support system these group activities provide.
If ever you’re feeling frustrated, boxing can be the ultimate outlet for aggression and anger. Because it allows you a moment of release, it leaves you feeling empowered. Even when you’re not particularly stressed, doing repetitive movements gives you the opportunity to put your thoughts in order. Boxing is also an effective way to improve confidence.
Aerobic activities such as running on a treadmill and going on an elliptical can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce pain, and greatly improve your overall mood. These exercises really get the heart pumping, which increases your blood flow and body temperature. This warm sensation post-aerobics is similar to that of a warm bath, thus relaxing your body and reducing muscle tension. Moreover, a study published on Health Psychology Research discovered how aerobics are also effective for improving overall self-esteem.
Written by A. Chloe
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