Exercise and mood are intricately linked: some days you feel you could smash your personal best with energy to spare, others you just want to curl up on the couch.
But being able to recognize your mindset – and how to work it – can be the key to unlocking your best performances (or at least help you beat the urge to skip a workout altogether…) We asked top fitness experts to share their mood-related exercise tips.
We all have those days when we feel off and aren’t sure how to approach exercise, mentally or physically. But skipping a workout only means you’ll miss out on the rush of feel-good endorphins at a time when you need it the most. “Exercise makes your body feel more alive and activated. You don’t have to sweat it out for an hour; a gentle 15-minute stretch can be enough to help re-energize you,” explains celebrity personal trainer Justin Gelband
Go for a power walk: half the battle is getting yourself started. After fifteen minutes of brisk walking you’ll be amazed at the uplift in mood. Try upping the ante with some yoga poses, which will help stimulate blood flow and stretch your spine. Inversion poses are particularly effective revivers: try downward-facing dog, standing forward folds and bridge poses, or sun salutations.
You might feel you’ve got a lot of pent-up, frustrated energy that needs releasing, but throw it all into a tough workout and you risk getting injured, explains Gelband.
Boxing moves such as punches, hooks and upper cuts are a great way of releasing tension in a controlled manner and clearing the mind; it can be particularly cathartic to work with a punching bag, but make sure to protect your hands with gloves or tape.
Spinning is also a fantastic stress-reliever. It’s high intensity and has the benefits of being instructor-led, social, and accompanied by music – all of which help immerse you in the workout and eliminate anything else weighing on your mind.
After something altogether more soothing? You can’t beat swimming for a gentle way to unwind – the focus required to coordinate your breath and movements helps to silence anxious thoughts.
When you’re feeling energized and motivated, take advantage and opt for a dynamic, challenging workout.
Try high intensity interval training (HIIT), recommends fitness expert Christina Howells.
By alternating between intense activity and short rest periods, HIIT is a great way to burn fat and boost fitness levels. And it’s super flexible: why not mix sprinting and gentle jogging, jump rope intervals and rest, or design your own circuits?
If you need a bit of inspiration, try this workout from Howells; she recommends doing each of these 5 moves for 45 seconds, with a 20-second rest in-between.
Start with bunny hops – lower yourself into a squat position, then jump as far forward as possible. Try landing on the balls of your feet, keeping your body straight, and make sure to cushion your knees.
Next up, plank star jumps – starting in a plank position, keeping your arms straight, jump both feet out to the side and then jump them back in to the center. Repeat this action as fast as you can, maintaining your balance.
Follow these with standard squat jumps, press-ups and then half press-ups. Now you’ve completed one round, take a breather and then do three more sets.
So whatever your mood, follow these simple tips to help work it to your advantage for a feel good boost you won’t regret.