Top Exercises to Better Your Mental Health

In "The Intersection Between Mental and Physical Health," we discussed how physical exercise is critical in bettering your mental health. For example, exercise releases brain chemicals that are essential in regulating your mood: endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin.

Mental health and physical health are very much intertwined, and exercise can be a game-changer in making you feel mentally well.

This article covers what types of exercises specifically are best for bettering your mental health. While all exercise is beneficial, certain exercises have an especially therapeutic effect on your mind!

Keep reading to learn how to use exercise to feel your best mentally!

Top Exercises to Better your Mental Health

1. Yoga

Yoga is a great exercise to better your mental health! Practicing yoga decreases the secretion of cortisol (the stress hormone) and reduces levels of anxiety and depression. This is because yoga functions as a self-soothing technique, similar to meditation!

Yoga essentially calms down your nervous system, which is heightened by anxiety and stress.

One of the main aspects of yoga is mindfulness. Mindfulness-based therapy is often used to treat anxiety. So if your therapist recommended you practice mindfulness, or you're just interested in trying it, turn to yoga!

2. Swimming

Swimming is another exercise that greatly benefits your mental health. Whether you're swimming laps, or you're trying water aerobics, simply being in the water is extremely beneficial for mental health.

"The most amazing thing about swimming is that the water is so therapeutic, mentally and physically," Masters Swim Coach at Craig Ranch Fitness + Spa, Jenny Fletcher, said. "The water is good for the mind, body, and soul. It's cleansing!"

3. Dancing

Whether you simply dance in your room or you take a dance class, dancing does wonders for your mental health! Think about how happy you've felt after dancing at a party or a wedding. Simply moving your body to the rhythm of upbeat music boosts your mood!

While movement and music provides many benefits, dancing also helps us feel more connected and social. We can bond with others while we dance, which releases more endorphins into our bodies!

4. Walking or Running in Nature

Walking and running are both aerobic exercises, which have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression! But rather than hit the gym to hop on the treadmill, opt for the outdoor track to walk or run in nature!

"Outdoor exercise or eco-therapy can be particularly beneficial and research suggests it can actually be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression," says Mind Information Manager, Rachel Boyd. Nature has been proven to benefit mental health, so exercising outside is a win-win!

5. Boxing

Have you ever felt like punching something when you were upset? Turn your anger and frustration into positivity with boxing! Boxing is a great form of cardio that can help you relieve your stress.

Punching out any negative feelings or emotions swirling around your head is highly effective in managing any unpleasant feelings you have. It's a win-win when you're punching an inanimate object!

6. Pilates

Have you ever heard someone say they don't like Pilates? Me either! Anyone who doesn't love it just hasn't tried it yet. Pilates is a peaceful and mindful practice that allows for building a deeper connection between the mind and the body. Pilates is relaxing and reduces your stress, which clears your mind and boosts your mood!

Pilates is actually a moving meditative practice! It lets you reap the benefits of meditation without sitting still. Meditation relieves anxiety, depression, reduces negative emotions, and helps with chronic pain management. Why not try Pilates?

Try these exercises for improved mental well-being!

Of course, any exercise you choose will improve your mental well-being. Exercise in general boosts your mood and reduces your stress. But yoga, swimming, dancing, walking or running in nature, boxing, and Pilates all have an even greater positive impact on your mental health.

Consider trying them, and if you love them, include them in your well-being routine!

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