Whether your mood is a little on the low side, or you suffer with anxiety or obsessive thinking, the chances are you can boost your mood with exercise.
“While no one would ever dream of suggesting exercise is a miracle mental health cure,” says fitness expert Laura Williams, “there’s no doubt it helps. The activity of potent hormones and neurotransmitters is increased by exercise, which will boost everything from optimism to productivity.”
As Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off (May 18-24) Williams has devised a short 10-minute workout, designed to boost your mood with exercise. “The increase in blood flow that occurs when you exercise helps to raise your mood, and increase energy levels,” she says. “And when you’re performing exercises that require a lot of concentration (see moves two and four), the mind’s attention is drawn to the task in hand, and away from troublesome, repetitive thoughts.
“Stretching – featured in moves five and six – helps the body to relax, and also improves circulation, helping to calm the mind,” Williams adds.
Why not put it to the test and see if you can boost your mood with exercise? Write down how you feel, start the clock, do the workout, and then write down how you feel again afterwards. You might just see an improvement…
Move 1: Curtsey and kick
Sweep left leg behind the right and bend both knees, lowering your body to the floor. Return to standing and as you do so, kick your left leg out to the side. Do 15 on each side.
Move 2: Deadlift and row
If you don’t have weights, use household items such as large detergent or water bottles. Stand on your right leg and hinge forward from the waist with your arms beneath your shoulders. Straighten back up and as you do, bend elbows and lift weights towards your chin. Do 10 on each leg.
Move 3: Lunge skip
Lightly hop into the air on your left leg as you extend your right leg back behind you, and lower body to the floor. Bend elbows and power through arms, in an exaggerated running motion. Do 20 on each leg.
Move 4: Chest press and bridge
Again, if you don’t have weights, grab a couple of large bottles, then lie on your back with legs bent, holding a weight in each hand. With elbows bent by shoulders, straighten the arms and extend the weights above your chest at the same time as lifting your back off the floor and coming into a bridge position. Pause briefly then lower. Aim for 15 reps.
Move 5: Kneeling hip and upper back stretch
From a kneeling position, place right foot on the floor in front of you, with left leg extended back behind you. Extend arms overhead and reach to the right, before repeating to the left. Switch legs and repeat.
Move 6: Seated upper body stretches
Reach forward to your toes, before raising arms to sides, then rotate your upper body just a little way to the left. Repeat to the right. Now raise your hands overhead, before clasping and raising them behind your back. Hold for 10 seconds.