Bust Your Bad Mood with ExerciseUse Fitness, Not Food, to Change Your State of Mind
-- By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer
Some days, I am just in a mood. I don’t know what you call it, maybe stressed, bored, lonely, angry, sad, anxious, or tired. I call it "getting into a funk." When it happens, I have allowed my circumstances to dictate my attitude and my thinking and then—bam! Before I know what hit me, I’m in a full-blown funk. While I like to exercise when a bad mood rises, others turn to unhealthy habits like emotional eating or smoking. When you're upset, stressed or otherwise not feeling like yourself, exercise—and the mood-enhancing endorphins it produces—can be the best thing for you. Don't you believe me?
The next time you feel that mood coming on, identify what you're feeling and why. Are you bored because your best friend is out of town? Are you feeling lonely since the kids have left the nest? Or maybe you are stressing over finances. Whatever it is, pinpoint it. Then use the specific ideas below to bust your bad mood with a feel-good exercise prescription.
Your Mood: Angry
Your blood is boiling! You want to take this anger out on someone before you explode!
Mood Busting Exercises: Kickboxing, boxing, shadowboxing, or martial arts.
Whether you follow a kickboxing video or take a group class, you'll release anger with every punch, kick and jab. Imagine the target of your anger as you do a set of 12 front kicks! Besides getting your anger out you’ll blast calories with these cardio workouts. Any form of martial arts, often overlooked as a form of exercise, will also work. Besides actually making contact with pads, targets, and shields (a major stress and anger releaser!), you’ll gain gaining confidence, discipline, and focus.
Your Mood: Bored
You're stuck in a rut and want to do something interesting, but you're not sure what.
Mood Busting Exercises: Spinning class, step aerobics, or a new fitness DVD
Beat boredom (without food) by taking a high-energy Spinning class at your local gym. Set to great tunes, you'll be surprised how quickly an hourlong class flies by. Step aerobics is another great workout when you're bored because it's always changing. You have to concentrate on the choreography—sort of like learning a simple dance that involves a step. You'll build skills and feel really accomplished when it's over! Lastly, head to the library or video rental store and pick up the first workout DVD that looks interesting to you. Do it at home or invite a friend over to try your newest exercise venture!
Your Mood: Lonely
When you feel lonely, throwing a pity party for one will only make it worse. Sometimes the best thing for you is to get out and socialize.
Mood Busting Exercises: Any group fitness class
Exercising with a group of people who are all following the same routine and all have similar goals can really make you feel like you're a part of something bigger than yourself. No matter what type of class you choose, there are plenty of reasons why group classes are so popular: They offer social support, a friendly environment and an opportunity to meet people who have similar interests.
Your Mood: Depressed
Depression is no joke. Millions of people suffer from depression that is debilitating and emotionally painful, but exercise is scientifically proven to help treat depression. While finding the motivation to take the first step is the hardest part, the right activity can help.
Mood Busting Exercises: Outdoor walking, biking, or running
There's something restorative about nature. Getting outside to breathe in fresh air and admire the scenery can make a world of difference in your perspective. Plus, regular exposure to sunlight can boost your mood and ward off seasonal depression, too. No matter what outdoor pursuit you enjoy (think outside of the box and try canoeing, climbing, or team sports, too), moving your body can help improve your outlook and symptoms.
Your Mood: Stressed
We're all busy, often taking on more responsibilities than we can handle. When life gets crazy and you want to throw in the towel, you can wind down without giving up on your obligations.
Mood Busting Exercises: Mind-body exercises like yoga, Pilates, or Tai chi
Mind-body exercises take focus, patience, and attention. Because of the complexities of maintaining the correct form and breathing, which connects the mind and body, it's almost impossible to think about your to-do list while you're in the middle of a good yoga or Pilates class, for example. The quiet, meditative atmosphere in these classes (and videos) allows you to tune in to the present moment—something that the overly stressed should do more often! If you're thinking that you're too busy or overwhelmed to try a class, then take advantage of short video workouts that are often broken up into 10- to 30- minute segments.
Have you ever finished a workout and thought to yourself, "I wish I hadn’t done that! I really just wasted my time." Probably not. Chances are you feel better physically and mentally. Regardless of your funk, exercise can be a useful tool to get you back to bust your bad mood and get back to your normal self. What are you waiting for?