Types of Exercise and Their Unique Impact on Our Moods
In general, exercising improves your mood and prevents depression. For me, exercising is a form of therapy. The endorphins released are scientifically proven to make you feel better. Even so, exercising in various ways impacts your psychological state slightly differently, especially in environments that are rich in sensory details.
This is a great reminder that you can let environments, intensity, and intentions positively affect your mood. An intense cycling class set to throwback pop may have you feeling on top of the world; a meditative outdoor yoga class could connect you with nature and ground you.
“The simple act of communing with nature can have extremely positive effects on the nervous system. [...] Experts believe that going outside for only a mere five minutes more per day can help boost your mood by 50%.” —Aleenta.com
There are many people who follow routines, which is great, but if you don't enjoy exercising or tend to get bored easily, you can certainly approach working out differently. As long as you move, it's a good thing, and if you listen to your body and mind, you can then utilize your workout to set the tone for your day.
You should select your daily routine with intuition and intention based on what you need that day. If you don't feel comfortable following a workout schedule, don't do it.
Oftentimes, people overlook balance training as a form of exercise, but it should be high on your priority list. Balance not only prevents injuries and improves performance, but it also impacts your psychological state.
This type of exercise can help with memory and spatial cognition if you've recently felt forgetful or a bit scattered. (Spatial cognition entails perceiving depth, acquiring knowledge, understanding geometrical relationships between objects, and understanding motion.)
“[...]stimulating the vestibular system during balance training induces changes of the hippocampus and parietal cortex possibly via direct pathways between the vestibular system and these brain regions.” —Scientific Reports
Balance training should be part of your regular exercise routine, but if you're experiencing any of the following:
- Vastly Overwhelmed
- Deadlines are Piling Up
- You’re Tripping All Over The Place
- You Can’t Seem to Focus on Just One Thing
— focus on balance for 30 minutes. You’ll leave feeling much more in tune with your body and environment and less in your head.
From hour-long runs and walks to multi-day runs, endurance training has been shown to impact your psychological well-being. The benefits of endurance training include “reduced feelings of tension, anger, and depression. This type of training has also been shown to raise feelings of happiness and contentment."
It is also the case that, when we accomplish something difficult, and we put a lot of ourselves into it, we come out of that feeling that much more confident in our capabilities for doing so. As with any training program, endurance training takes some time to get used to, but if you're already in shape, running a long run even on a day where you don't feel all that confident in yourself would be a win that would inspire you to do more.
Consider Endurance training if you:
- A feeling of frustration or dissatisfaction with the work you've been doing
- When you know you can do better for yourself and need to affirm yourself
- In need of a pleasure boost from near-instant gratification
Always (and especially with this) put in the appropriate amount of time into recovery stretches and cool-downs to avoid injury and discomfort later on.
It sounds similar to balance training, but perhaps there is less emphasis on concentrating on the task at hand and more on releasing and expanding to make sure the body receives the right support. It is no secret that we clench up when stressed. Can you recall when our jaws were all clenched during the 2020 shutdown? In the same way, as we try and control our increasingly hectic lives, we get tighter and tighter and tighter. Enter flexibility exercises. Try a day of flexibility training if you're feeling:
- Wound up
- On the Verge of Explosion
- Think You’re Experiencing Burnout
- In Constant Pain
- Work from Home and Don’t Get to Move Enough and it Makes you Feel Miserable…
Research shows that flexibility training releases stored tension, which contributes to chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. When you stretch, endorphins are released and pain receptors are blocked, causing you to experience a body high. As you stretch, serotonin is also produced, which helps stabilize your mood.
Yoga is the most notable type of flexibility training, but a solid stretching routine can transform your day on its own.
Exercise is a valid type of therapy, and while your therapist may not prescribe it, but we’re certainly recommending it. As always listen to your body and start living your best life.