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Which is the best workout when you are feeling sad?

Midjourney AI Image man stressed tensed
Feeling down or stressed? You might have Googled for a quick fix and the search results may have indicated exercising since physical activity is supposed to juice up the good hormone secretions. However, everybody is not up for it and more importantly, it is hard to get into the workout mindset when you are already feeling the blues. While lifestyle experts say that you don't have to feel helpless about it - exercise is a great way to help boost your mental health, we'll discuss the best workouts when you're feeling low and share some ideas about what type of physical activity can have positive effects on your mental health. Yes, there is no doubt that when done correctly, exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety.

However, the biggest handicap when trying to extract a workout when feeling depressed is the access to the equipment. 



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If you have been regularly going to a gym, you just might not be ready to dress up and head down to the establishment. If you have been keen on running for miles in the morning, you might not be in the mood to lace up and head outside for a longer run. The thing is that when you are low on energy and mental reserves, you need something that can be accessed without doing too much and the irony is that struggling with a depressive mindset, you just don't want to move. The only way to navigate this issue is perhaps to make the exercise equipment available at all times. Even if you are a gym rat, keep some basic stretch bands and light weights handy at the apartment. Even if you need the biggest squat machine to pump up those thighs, keep some gear at home that helps you manage a light workout.

Lady stretching to get fitter without gymming
Believe me, the chances of heading out for a run or driving down to the gym are a lot lesser than getting started at home using some basic exercising tools and a handful of bodyweight exercises - the bigger benefit? Once you start at home, getting a bit of that blood and some sweat flowing, you are more likely to warm up to the idea of now, completing a proper workout session - that is the end goal and that can actually help defeat a bout of depression. Invest in stretch bands. Keep a couple of high-intensity ones that really need a lot of effort and put some strain on the shoulder blades and the upper back. Finger grippers are not a big help here. You are better off investing in a dumbbell with plated combinations going up to 25 kg at least - sumo squats with this weight range can be very effective - my personal experience suggests it seldom fails.


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Lifestyle articles suggest that some good options include aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, or swimming; strength training; and mind-body exercises like yoga or tai chi. But the thing is that you might not feel like getting into it all the way. Exercising when feeling sad is not necessarily about hitting the circuit. It is about some type of intensive physical activity that works at two levels. One, it takes away the focus from the problem at hand. This means you obsess less about what has been bothering you since last night. Secondly, a pumped-up metabolism invariably means feeling slightly better, the sweatier and out of breath you feel, the better the chances of overcoming what has put you down. Whatever type of exercise you choose, make sure to start slowly and gradually build up to a level that feels comfortable for you - working out when feeling sad is not about beating your gym standards or setting new ones. Remember that the goal for this 'beat the blues workout' is to feel better, so don’t push yourself too hard physically. If you’re not sure where to start, just try walking and take it up to brisk, long walking with the hands swaying and make that cotton tee wet with sweat. Those who have been exercising regularly will realize that a small, brisk walk can also be a good warm-up, as you start getting out of the mental doldrums and start realizing that a more strenuous workout, indoors or outdoors, just might be possible.

Deciphering what online searches preach about the Type of Exercises That Can Help Improve Mood...

midjourney icon of physical exercise
Online searches say that there are many different types of exercises to help improve mood. Some of the most effective exercises for uplifting your mood according to Google searches include:

Cardio exercises: Cardio exercises are great for getting the heart rate up and increasing blood flow to the brain. This can help to improve mood and cognitive function. I agree with this. Once you start getting flushed with the blood racing to your head, you are likely to temporarily forget your anxieties. If you have a treadmill at home, you are pretty much there in terms of the gear needed to do this. If not, try some free-hand squats. I won't recommend heading outdoors right away since running outdoors means being ready for the turf that awaits you. When your mind is cloudy, you just might not get on with the running gear needed - better start at home, get some momentum going, and then build it up.

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Balance and coordination exercises: search online for exercises that perk up mood levels and you will find a list of recommended exercises that challenge balance and coordination and are supposed to challenge the mind and improve focus, taking away the tendency to overthink what is already bothering you. However, I feel this is not the best piece of advice. Coordination exercises are not easy to do when you want to throw in the towel, pull up the sheet, and just sleep away your worries. You are just not awake enough and alert enough to try any posture or control the breathing rate. You need an easy exercise to feel good and while something as simple as a light jog or walk can do the trick, you can challenge yourself with some push-ups too but anything along the lines of complicated yoga postures or weightlifting that needs postural discipline and perfect form are not the best pick upfront.


to get moving when you are feeling down:

animated midjourney image office guy stressed
Try calculating it: do the basic maths of the situation. What seems cheaper? Take a day off from work, visit your counselor, stretch, or do some free-hand exercises at home. Even anti-anxiety pills need a fresh prescription these days. You might waste an entire day that could have been used for something as vital as updating the banking details. Invariably, you will realize that the cheapest pill to beat the blues and save some money while doing so is some light-duty exercise. Even cycling is good enough. Give it 40 minutes and you feel the stress melting away, at least to the extent that you are functional again.

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Make a log of it: whatever type of workout you choose, exercising is an effective way to boost your mental health but the first handful of instances when you choose to exercise rather than dwell on a problem that seems impossible to solve, the battle of mind can be a killer. If you manage to do this a couple of times, you now have some fuel to overcome the next bout of negative thinking. You can do this by creating a visual log of when you managed to beat bad mood swings by exercising. Put the date-wise log in your Google Photo database and the next time you are in bed, trying to hide from the world, you will feel the inclination to check out how you managed to overcome the impossible. One glance at this triumphant moment will pour in the positivity you need to repeat the drill.

Tell yourself that you are TURNING IT UPSIDE DOWN!

Exercise helps improve mood and self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety, increase energy levels and even help with sleep. It can also help build resilience and provide a sense of accomplishment - all important components in helping manage depression. Equally important is the fact that exercising is the exact opposite of what is expected when the spirits are low - when your body and mind seek solitude and solace, choosing weights or cycling over anything else turns things upside down...for the better!

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