Written by Demmy James
Health & Fitness
28th March 2019
Feeling Down? Why Workouts Can Help You Feel Better
There are times in life where everything seems to move along perfectly. Seriously, it is almost as if you are in a dream, and everything somehow manages to work out exactly how you planned it. No matter the scenario, you find yourself feeling both motivated and determined. You wake up each day, ready to face whatever challenge comes your way. In short, your energy levels are high, and you are completely confident in your abilities as a strong, successful, and independent human being. As if in a dream.
On the other hand, as I am sure you already know, it isn’t always like this. There are times when life can get a bit much. The stress from work accumulates. Things become really challenging. The time you have available to spend on doing things you want diminishes rapidly – and as a result, your mindset changes. Finding the energy to drag yourself out of bed can become a real challenge. Everything seems to take more effort than it should.
Ultimately, you find yourself feeling down. However, it is important to note that this is completely normal. As humans in a modern society, we face a huge amount of stress each day. Over time this stress can accumulate, taking a huge toll on our mental state. Moreover, if left unaddressed, it can even lead to mental health issues and depression. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Enter exercise. Many don’t realize that exercise is arguably one of the most powerful mood boosters on the planet –and it also happens to be completely free. But how does it work?
Working out changes your brain
First and foremost, working out literally changes the structure of your brain – in a good way of course. Working out in any way, shape, or form, causes these little proteins (known as neurotrophic growth factors) to be released into your brain. These proteins are damn incredible, as they cause the nerves within your brain to increase in activity, and to create brand new connections with each other. Amazingly, this process leads to marked improvements in mood in both the short and long term.
Working out is about you!
In today’s busy society, it’s not uncommon to find yourself pandering to almost everyone’s needs but your own. You are forever trying to please people – whether they are people at work, or even friends and family. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it leaves very little time in the day where you can actually focus on helping yourself. However, exercise remedies this. It provides a small pocket of the day where your focus is entirely on you. With this it is important to note that exercise is not simply alone time – but rather an act that is performed with the intent to distract you from the negatives in your life, while physically bettering yourself in the process. This alone has been shown to cause large improvements in mood and mental state, while simultaneously improving your ability to manage stress. Pretty impressive really!
Working out improves your self esteem
Finally, you need to remember that working out also boosts your self-esteem in a very big way. This appears to be the result of two key factors: 1: The fact that working out simply makes you feel better about yourself from a completely mental perspective. 2: The fact that working out causes physical changes to occur to your body, which obviously can alter how you look, and more importantly, how you perceive you look. Now, the combination of these factors can have some seriously positive effects on your confidence. Within this, regular exercise has been shown to vastly improve feelings of self-worth, while also causing huge improvements in energy levels. All of which contribute to a massive increase in self-esteem. In fact, through this powerful interaction, exercise even has the ability to help to improve upon the symptom of depression. Hell, it has even been said that exercise can be as effective as some pharmaceutical grade antidepressants – which should give you some pretty good insight into just how powerful it is at improving mood.
The Best Mood Boosting Workouts
You might be wondering whether how you choose to workout has an impact on your mood – and there is actually some recent evidence to suggest that when it comes to maximally improving how you feel, resistance training may be king. I should note that any exercise is better than nothing – but resistance training does appear to have a bigger impact on the brain, which can lead to greater improvement in mood. With this in mind, I have put together a couple of little resistance training workouts that you can do at home. These workouts take hardly any time and are built around bodyweight exercises – meaning that they don’t require any equipment at all. As a result, you can give these a go any time you are feeling down, stressed, or just in need of a bit of me time.
Mood boosting home workouts for men
When it comes to home workouts for men, I really like to use a lot of upper body exercises (to get a solid pump on), with a couple of lower body exercises thrown in sporadically to increase blood flow. Workout for men: Set the timer to 20 or 30 minutes and complete as many rounds as possible: Plyometric ‘clap’ push ups – 5 reps, close hand push up – 12 reps, walking lunges – 12 reps per side, wide hand push up – 12 reps, bodyweight squat – 30 reps, yoga push up – 12, Russian twists – 12 reps per side.
There are always going to be times in your life when it all become a little bit too much. Everything becomes a real grind, and you constantly find yourself feeling, tired, overwhelmed, and ultimately, bummed out. But it’s important to remember that this is completely normal – and that you can always turn to exercise as an extremely effective mood boosting remedy. So, don’t hesitate. Dive right in and use exercise to cause lasting changes in your mood and your mindset – trust me when I say you won’t regret it