April 29, 2011
Nicole Dorsey Straff
When you exercise, your brain releases a slew of feel-good chemicals that help you feel motivated, calm and inspired for life. So if you’re feeling stressed, tired or pissed off try our expert fitness moves that can put a smile back on your face. Pronto.Try these specific activities the next time you feel anxious or down-in-the-dumps!
MOOD: Stressed out or anxious
High-energy exercise, such as boxing and martial arts, provide an effective release of negative emotions. “To keep stress hormone levels under control, any exercise that’s aerobic, upbeat that stimulates circulation is excellent,” says Stephanie Vitorino, Group Fitness Manager for Equinox Fitness in Woodland Hills, CA. Studies show effective ways to reduce the stress hormone “cortisol” includes deep-breathing techniques, meditation and 30 minutes of any enjoyable and non-competitive aerobic activity, including kickboxing and indoor cycling.
What also helps:Try 30 to 60 minutes of mood-enhancing yoga or circuit training with weights that helps relax your body and mellow your mood.
MOOD: Fatigued or lethargic
A review of 12 studies on the connection between exercise and fatigue measured the amount of physical activity that participants were doing and how much fatigue the participants experienced. All studies found a direct link between reduced fatigue and more active exercise! You don’t need to run a marathon to pump up your stamina, says Vitorino. “Just 20 minutes of power walking, vigorous bike riding or dynamic rounds of yoga Sun Salutations can do wonders.” “Music wakes you up too, so create a go-to playlist of songs that propel you to exercise,” Vitorino says.
What also helps:The trick is to simply start exercising when you feel slow or sluggish. In extreme cases, start with moves where you can actually lie down, such as mat Pilates or sports stretching. Soon, you’ll progress to more intense activities.
MOOD: Unfocused or ill-at-ease
A bounty of evidence supports the claim that exercise improves your ability to think more clearly. Last year, Dr. Phillip Tomporowski, an exercise scientist at the University of Georgia, reviewed dozes of scientific papers that compared how a bout of exercise affects cognitive performance on various mental tasks and concentration. Dr. Tomporowski, and avid triathlete, narrowed down the optimal prescription to 20 to 30 minutes of aerobics such as power walking, running, and swimming. “A short bout of cardio is enough to unlock a mental block,” says Dr. Tomporowski. A lunchtime walk around the ‘hood, a kickboxing class or a game of tennis is beneficial.
What also helps: “Do something that actually focuses you to a particular task at hand, such as balance training with a BOSU or racquet sports for hand-eye coordination,” says Vitorino, the creator of the best-selling “Body Target 60″ DVD(amazon.com).
MOOD: Sad or melancholy
Treating the blues is as easy as lacing up your sneakers for a run or a walk around the track, say our experts. “Working out with an empathetic buddy or heading outside for a sunny sail or bike ride can battle a slump,” says Vitorino. Just 30 to 45 minutes of steady exercise–from elliptical training and stair climbing to karate and cross-country skiing–keeps the stress off your joints, and burns mega-calories. “When I’m too sad to exercise solo, I call a friend and go for a hike-connecting with nature is a great way to feel less miserable!” says Vitorino.
What also helps:Dance DVDs or a yoga class can also boost the blues. Vitorino says, “Tap into exercise variety and try something new, which will shake up your workouts and your body!”
MOOD: Unmotivated or sleepy
Researchers at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center studied the beneficial effects of moderate-intensity activity on sleep quality, and found that the amount of exercise (more is better) and the time of day you exercise (earlier is better) are more important than the type of exercise. Head researcher Dr. Anne McTiernan, found that women who walked or biked at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes every morning (seven days per week) were less sleepy than those who exercised less. Conversely, women who performed evening exercises experienced no improvement in sleep onset or quality. So, do 30 minutes of moderate activity (where you’re breathing hard but not overdoing it) before noonevery day to fight ennui.
What also helps: “Moderate weight lifting also increases metabolism and boosts your mood,” Vitorino says. Exercise early and do something everyday to get happy, balanced and motivated for life!