Fitness Articles

Bust Your Bad Mood with Exercise

Use Fitness, Not Food, to Change Your State of Mind

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By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer         
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Some days, I am just in a mood. I don’t know what you call it, maybe stressed, bored, lonely, angry, sad, anxious, or tired. I call it "getting into a funk." When it happens, I have allowed my circumstances to dictate my attitude and my thinking and then—bam! Before I know what hit me, I’m in a full-blown funk. While I like to exercise when a bad mood rises, others turn to unhealthy habits like emotional eating or smoking. When you're upset, stressed or otherwise not feeling like yourself, exercise—and the mood-enhancing endorphins it produces—can be the best thing for you. Don't you believe me?

The next time you feel that mood coming on, identify what you're feeling and why. Are you bored because your best friend is out of town? Are you feeling lonely since the kids have left the nest? Or maybe you are stressing over finances. Whatever it is, pinpoint it. Then use the specific ideas below to bust your bad mood with a feel-good exercise prescription.

Your Mood: Angry
Your blood is boiling! You want to take this anger out on someone before you explode!
Mood Busting Exercises: Kickboxing, boxing, shadowboxing, or martial arts.
Whether you follow a kickboxing video or take a group class, you'll release anger with every punch, kick and jab. Imagine the target of your anger as you do a set of 12 front kicks! Besides getting your anger out you’ll blast calories with these cardio workouts. Any form of martial arts, often overlooked as a form of exercise, will also work. Besides actually making contact with pads, targets, and shields (a major stress and anger releaser!), you’ll gain gaining confidence, discipline, and focus.

Your Mood: Bored
You're stuck in a rut and want to do something interesting, but you're not sure what.
Mood Busting Exercises: Spinning class, step aerobics, or a new fitness DVD
Beat boredom (without food) by taking a high-energy Spinning class at your local gym. Set to great tunes, you'll be surprised how quickly an hourlong class flies by. Step aerobics is another great workout when you're bored because it's always changing. You have to concentrate on the choreography—sort of like learning a simple dance that involves a step. You'll build skills and feel really accomplished when it's over! Lastly, head to the library or video rental store and pick up the first workout DVD that looks interesting to you. Do it at home or invite a friend over to try your newest exercise venture!
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About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

Member Comments

  • I love the way this article breaks down the kind of activities that could address whatever your dealing with.
    Good stuff! Thank you! - 3/6/2016 2:34:31 PM
  • Love this - all great ideas. I found myself so angry yesterday morning that I just didn't know what to do. Breaking something has never been a good option. So I put on my tennis shoes, got Daisy ready and out we went for the fastest walk around the block (it's a very large block) that we've ever taken. But, I felt so much better when we got home! - 3/6/2016 11:28:57 AM
  • Good advice to remember. I had some stress issues this week and should have just walked it out. - 3/5/2016 11:17:25 AM
  • Good ideas here, but the suggestion about imagining that you are hitting the object of your anger when practicing martial arts is bad advice. The Japanese words kara te mean empty hand, and the empty part refers to more than just a hand with nothing in it: the empty mind is what gives karate its power and speed. Any martial art exercise should be treated as a meditation, and the object of your attention should be the task you are doing: focus your mind on your body. This is what used to be called paying attention to what you're doing instead of daydreaming (i.e., imagining you're hitting something or someone). This is as important as the physical part of the exercise (if not more so). And it should work just fine at reducing stress or anger or whatever, because meditation tends to have that effect. - 3/5/2016 10:38:02 AM
  • Awesome article! - 2/19/2016 2:47:29 PM
  • Great article! I'm definitely going to come back to this time and time again for the suggestions and reminders! - 9/22/2015 9:58:57 AM
  • Love this. One of the biggest things I'm learning is that 1) I used to use food to medicate a lot of stress, anxiety, boredom, frustration... and 2) running wipes out those negative emotions, leaving me so much better able to negotiate my day-to-day life (without the need for unhealthy coping tools). - 9/5/2015 11:23:44 AM
  • Great article! - 2/15/2015 4:07:06 PM
  • Great article! It is helpful to see the suggested exercise broken down by what to do based on how a person is feeling. Love that! - 1/11/2015 10:08:59 AM
  • Nice suggestions for different types of exercise for different moods - 10/3/2014 5:43:31 AM
  • This is a terrific article and echoes what therapists have been telling me all my adult life! Not always, but frequently -- you can lighten depression by moving your body around in a walk or a couple of sit-ups. Just about anything that gets you out of your chair will help a bad mood, if the problem is not chronic and debilitating. Of course, this is not always an answer but it sure has helped me out over the years. - 8/27/2014 5:47:10 PM
  • Some good suggestions, but what if you can't do something right then, i.e., you're at work and have a big project to finish? You just can't get up from your desk, and go for a 10 min. walk. Good way to lose your job, or get so far behind you have to stay late. So what do you do? You're stuck.

    It's easy to say "get up and move when you're depressed". Try doing that when you're overwhelmed with grief and trying to scream without alerting the neighbors. I've been battling bouts of depression and anger since my mother died in Sept. Getting up and going for a walk or any kind of exercise is completely out of the question. I simply can't do it. - 8/27/2014 10:30:51 AM
  • I just did this today. I was feeling bored and stressed; plus, just generally blah. It's a cloudy day. I finally convinced myself to do my scheduled workout. Now I feel so much better. - 7/28/2014 1:29:21 PM
  • ARYTON
    Wish there was a way to save this to my page lol - 6/3/2014 8:26:15 PM
  • BLUEFROG4
    New mood to consider: Perplexed. I have a really hard time making decisions and tend to eat while I'm procrastinating and thinking over the options. I bet simply taking an outdoor walk and mindfully noticing things along the way would go a long way to helping me out. And by the time I got home, I'd probably have an answer! - 5/24/2014 9:26:18 AM

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