We all know that exercise in general will improve your mental health. Even a session in the gym with its awful music and oppressive mirrors can make you feel good when you come out. It might be the endorphins, it might be the sense of achievement, it might be the energy.
But sometimes you simply need something different. We’re not all made for enjoying the gym. We’re not against exercise, but in a better package. The best would be one that improves our mental health while we’re at it. Well, we’ve got lots of suggestions. Take a look at our guide to exercises that will improve your mental health.
How Exercise Can Improve Your Mental Health
Before going into detail about the individual exercises that will benefit your mental health, you should know the reasons behind this. Exercise is a natural remedy for anxiety and some mental health challenges. It can help you to relieve stress, boost your energy and provide you with a fresh release of endorphins. Any type of exercise in this regard will help, with certain individuals getting more out of it than others.
Some marginalized groups experience unique concerns and mental health challenges due to historical experiences, or even cultural differences. This is why July is known as Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Month. The Mental Health America organization dedicated the month to help increase public awareness of mental illness in these groups. There are experts out there providing personalized mental health care specializing in BIPOC mental health, to help those that are marginalized get the help they need. In the short term, exercise can help manage some mental health concerns. However, in the long term, it will be beneficial for mental health treatment and support to become more accessible.
Give Your dog A Workout
Everything’s more fun with a dog. A long walk will be fun in itself, but if you really want to give your fur baby a workout, that means you’ll need a workout too. Get on your running shoes or break out the bike and hit up a nature trail.
If you have a smaller fur baby, there is a fascinating trend of doggy yoga right now, where you’re using your dog as somewhat of a weight.
Getting a dog has lots of mental health benefits to begin with, but if you need a boost of endorphins, you can cause a double whammy of mental health benefits by adding your dog to the mix.
Dancing, no matter what style you’re going for, is always fun. There is a reason you pay lots of money to get into the club when you’re in a state where the best place for you is your bed – it’s fun.
If you don’t fancy the club though, since you’re likely to be making yourself as unhealthy as you are working to get healthy, you can look into some dance classes so that you can learn some moves.
Nail Beyonce’s Single Ladies with a street dance class or put some fire in the belly with some tango.
There are lots to choose from, and they all have different benefits, but a few staples are the cardio exercise, the confidence, and the fun of dancing. You’ll soon forget any woes when you’re dancing, to the point that some experts tell you to just get up off the sofa and start to dance in order to get your brain into releasing some endorphins.
Look into tango, theatre, tap, folk, swing, etc. They all offer extra target points for exercise and a bit of character that might appeal. Then there are more sensual dances like pole and burlesque. They all have their own means of getting your body sweating. Pole, for example, is about core strength and muscles, since holding yourself by your thighs or one arm isn’t the easiest thing.
If you’ve got a rink nearby, you should look into skating. Ice skating or roller skating? It doesn’t matter. As long as you’re gliding around, you’ll use all the muscle groups in your body and greatly improve your balance and coordination.
Besides, if you look into roller blading, it’s likely you’ll come across a roller derby where you can dance as you glide, for an extra source of fun. And if you don’t, you can skate through your nature-filled park for an extra helping of mental health aid.
Getting outdoors, indoors
Look, sometimes the weather just isn’t permitting for excursions. We all know that getting out into nature is great for the mental health, and that’s perhaps true in the moment. But if you’re in an area that is constantly raining or cold, that won’t last.
Luckily, there are a lot of sport complexes around the world that like to offer you a chance to do your favorite nature-based sport no matter the weather. So, try rock climbing. It’s more of a partner sport, where you won’t be too out of breath to chat, so you might make a friend while you’re there.
And some places even have indoor ski slopes. No longer will it take a cross-continental flight to get the skis or even snowboard out, and instead you can enjoy the cardio burn of continually skiing indoors.
And in the meantime, stick a few plants in your bedroom to get the effect of nature in your home.
If you would like to incorporate a bit of power and personal safety into your exercise you might want to look at Krav Maga, boxing, and kickboxing. That’s just a sample. There is capoeira, karate, kung fu, muay thai, tae kwon do, and tang soo do for striking styles. You’ve got jiu jitsu, wrestling, luta livre, Russian sambo, and sumo, in the ground-fighting styles. Throwing styles include, judo, shuai jiao, hapkido and aikido. If you want to incorporate weapons you can look into kali, iaido or kendo and for a low impact option you can look into baguazhang, chi gong and tai chi. These low impact options are especially useful for your mental health as they have an element of meditation to them.
Gain confidence to be able to handle anything life throws at you, while actually learning what it takes to get yourself out of a dangerous situation. Or simply focus on your mental health with an exercise option that likes to incorporate meditation.