MANY of us start our fitness journeys with a specific goal in mind — lose weight, bulk up, even gain mass. And we're often gung-ho for a period, as we vow to go all the way until we achieve what we want. But the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and even a well-intentioned fitness journey can be thrown off the rails by a downer.
Whether it's bad news, fatigue, problems at home, sheer laziness, or not seeing results fast enough, all these can result in mood changes which can affect the progress of your workout. Some people pause for a while, hoping to pick things up when things get better… others never resume and derail all the progress they might have made.
What's the solution to sustain your regimen, even when life throws you stumbling blocks? Mood-boosting workouts, says personal trainer Demario Johns.
“These are beneficial in two ways — you get your workout in, and your mood will improve,” Johns said. “All in all it will be a win-win situation.”
These workouts, he said, include:
Ever notice that after an intense run you feel like you can take on the world? That's because your brain releases endorphins that boost your mood and energy levels after high- intensity exercises like this. It would seem like you should be exhausted after a run, right? But no, these endorphins increase your energy levels, relieves stress, and gives you a runner's high that will keep you topped up for a long time.
Add some music and this is good exercise, especially for those times when you're having mind conflict. Something or someone got you worried and miserable? Feel-good poses like the downward facing dog, plank pose, and cobra pose will have you breathing easy as the stress and negative thoughts roll off your back. Doing them will help you focus and let go of negative energy.
It's not just the rhythmic movement of your body in the water that's calming — it's also that swimming is the perfect activity for those sweltering days when the heat adds to your frustration. Not only is swimming a great all-body workout, it has been shown to also lower depression and anxiety and improve sleep. Like jogging, swimming releases endorphins that will lead to a greater sense of happiness and well-being. And day swimming is good, but nothing beats the calm of night swimming, which will also do wonders for your mental health as you embrace nature.
It doesn't even have to be anything as refined as Zumba and Latin dancing, this activity is sure to improve your mood, especially if it's music you love. So throw on a mix of your favourite songs, turn the speakers up loud, and get moving. Research has shown that dancing is great for reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety — especially when you're listening to music that takes you back to a happier place. Even if you can't bust a move like a pro, dance like no one's watching anyway.
If you want to increase your energy and then release more of those feel-good hormones, then a bit of biking will do the trick. Cycling pumps up mood enhancers like serotonin and dopamine, which will have you in a good place not just for the short-term, but longer if you keep at it. Just the accomplishment that you'll feel after biking, especially over difficult terrain, is a mood booster. Add to that the physical benefits of toned arms, legs and glutes, and you'll feel pride in your accomplishments, which is great for your mental well-being.