But there’s also another remedy. And it doesn’t require a trip to the pharmacy. Exercise boosts stress-relieving hormones, gets your mind off what’s ailing you, and leaves you with a sense of accomplishment.
But which exercises are best for boosting mood?
It matters less what you’re doing, than how you’re feeling about it. So…
First, find an exercise you love. Whether you’re lacing up your sneakers for the first time in ages or you’ve been a gym rat for years, finding an activity you love adds new dimension to what you get out of it. No longer is it only about calorie burned, miles run, or endorphins that last for a few hours. It’s about passion. When aspects of cognition are engaged, when you’re invoking more than just muscle reflexes, you’re much more invested in the activity. And the more invested you are the harder you’ll work, the more calories you’ll burn.
Connect with other people who love it. Doing activity in a group or with a buddy is really powerful. That connection can keep you accountable. And it makes the activity that much more enjoyable. The gym can be an anonymous endeavor. You can walk in with your iPod on and head straight to your favorite treadmill. But making the effort to connect with people you see there everyday can enhance your experience. A sense of community raises your comfort level, whether you’re trying something new or facing a new challenge in your existing routine. And being part of a community contributes to your own sense of identity. You belong (to more than just the health club.)
So when it comes to using exercise as a means for feeling better, choose something you love and find other people who love it, too.