6 Workout Approaches to Improve Mental Health - insidefitnessmag.com
Written by Tess DiNapoli

Every time you deal with an extremely stressful life situation, it may be difficult for you to cope without falling into negative behavioral patterns. The root of many mental health issues is those negative behavioral patterns. They can transform into a major obstacle to your personal growth and optimum wellbeing.

Your mental and emotional health is intrinsically linked to your physical health, so when you begin to work on yourself you need to consider how healthy your body is. To get started, you can follow these mental health tips which can guide you towards the recovery of your happiness and welfare.

Many people don’t realize that personal satisfaction is often just a few steps away from the gym. Learn about workout regimens that can not only help improve your mental health in a variety of ways but also help improve your self-esteem and motivate you.

High-Intensity Training (HIIT)

This type of exercise is so demanding that you will be unable to think about what is stressing you once you get started. Participating in a HIIT session is like a mini boot camp and only lasts 60 minutes. It provides a mental vacation from everything going on in your life and lets you breakaway while releasing all that stress through fitness.

An alternative to HIIT is krav maga and fitness training for self-defense. Any type of life event that makes your heart race or causes you to have an adrenaline rush will be less important to you emotionally because your body has trained to perform well under such intense physical strain. Since your body will release more adrenaline and cortisol during these exercises, it will make you more resilient to stressful life conditions.

Yoga and Pilates

Yoga can help you build strength and resilience, either through a dynamic practice that’s more intense like vinyasa flow, long-held postures in classes like Hatha or Iyengar, or gentle, restorative classes designed to help you release and stretch. Yoga exercises make you pay attention to how you feel on the inside while you hold different postures. This helps you reconnect your mind with your body. Some classes may have the option of chanting. While some may find this uncomfortable, chanting and singing can help strengthen the vagus nerve inside your throat. This nerve helps to regulate the nervous system, which is very important for stress release.

These exercises also help you regulate your breathing as the yoga instructor will encourage you to breathe more deeply and at certain intervals or at a collective pace. An alternative to yoga is Pilates and fitness programs that also help regulate breathing. For ultimate comfort, while you work out or move your body, it’s recommended to wear soft activewear for both fitness activities. Pilates can help tone and tighten your abdominal muscles at the same time and can be more intense than yoga.

Dance Hobbies

Dance and happiness go hand in hand for many reasons. When you dance to the rhythm of the music you can feel relaxed as you let your muscles unwind. Dancing helps improve self-esteem and mental wellbeing. Also, dancing can improve body posture, which can improve self-confidence. Moving around to music brings a sense of freedom and relief. It allows creative and emotional expression, which you probably don’t experience often when dealing with other areas of your life. Attending a dance class gives you an area of safety and privacy, as you and other dancers can enjoy music together and encourage one another as you learn.

Cycling or Spin Class

When you go biking, you could release stress, improve your mental clarity and ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Either in public, at a park, or in a class, the benefits of cycling can help lessen stress hormones and improve the content of emotions. Even if you are not very good at biking, you can still take a group class session that includes a motivational group of cyclers and good music. It’s fun and enjoyable and offers a lower impact workout than jogging or running. For a greater challenge, you can bike up hills or in parks with bike paths that are not on pavement.

Running and Walking

If you have never heard of a runner’s high, it is basically the feeling of euphoria you get after jogging for a period of time. It helps to bring mental clarity and has the ability to reduce depression. Being outdoors can be refreshing in the sense that you get a change of scenery as you jog or walk through your neighborhood or the park. Running has the ability to calm you down and clear out negative thoughts from your mind.

Focusing on one activity for a period of time can have an effect where you declutter your mind from overactive thoughts. You can also reduce your food cravings and improve the health of your heart with jogging.

Hiking in the Woods

Spending time in nature will help to lower your stress hormone levels. In Japanese culture, forest baths are considered a type of therapy where you simply walk through wooded areas for the purpose of healing and stress release. Hiking through the woods or hour-long nature walks helps to reduce anxiety and increase endorphins.

The challenge of going up steep paths or around mountainsides has the added bonus of demanding more physical activity. Because of this, you may find yourself thinking less about your life struggles and more about the task at hand. Additionally, after climbing a very high hill and looking down on everything you surpassed, there is a sense of accomplishment. This aids in boosting confidence and self-esteem.

Balancing Mind and Body with Movement

Regardless of what fitness level you are or what exercise modality you decide to add to your daily or weekly routine, it’s clear that regular exercise not only benefits your physical health but also your mental health. Take care of your body, take care of your mind, and notice how you feel as a result.

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