Almost every form of exercise can work wonders on elevating our mood. Outside of some much-appreciated muscle tone, exercising triggers the release of our “feel-good hormones” called endorphins that work with the neurotransmitters in our brain to diminish our perception of pain and increase pleasure. The amount of endorphins released differs by exercise type, intensity and duration. The faster and longer the heart pumps, the better. Since humans tend to chase pleasure and avoid pain, especially during times of stress, we wanted to share some of the quickest and most efficient ways to stimulate your endorphins without even leaving your living room.
Cardio exercises (those that strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system) and aerobic exercises (anything that increases the body’s need for oxygen) like jogging, cycling or swimming are some of the quickest ways to get those endorphins released. But if you’re stuck indoors, the same results can be achieved through strategic cardio moves.
Try: Jumping Jacks or Squat Jumps
Jumping jacks burn about 100 calories in 10 minutes and require no special equipment or skills. Starting with your legs together and arms at your sides, simply jump in place while planting feet widely while circling the arms overhead, then back to the original position again. For squat jumps, start in a squatting position and jump out to a wide squat position.
Tip: For added difficulty, try pylo-jacks or star jumps. Start from a squat then jump into the air as you come up to the traditional jumping jack position. Star jumps begin from a squat, jump into the air and end in a squat.
Boasting countless benefits, from tension release to enhanced flexibility, yoga consistently aims at maintaining a balance between mind and body. Yogic stretching is also a valuable tool for releasing endorphins as well as increasing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain and body.
Try: Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Most of us sit at a desk all day and tend to carry a horrible posture as a result. Fish pose allows us to stretch up and out of our lower backs, opening up our chests and shoulders in a gentle backbend position. According to MindBodyGreen, Fish pose opens up the chest and throat, allowing the oxygenated blood to flow to the back of the throat and into the brain while giving the body a juicy endorphin-encouraging stretch.
Tip: Doing fish pose right before bed is a great way to encourage a good night’s sleep.
Nothing like using Earth’s gravity to help get your heart pumping and endorphins cranking! Lifting weights is a quick and effective way to target vital muscle groups and stimulate blood flow.
Try: Basic Bicep Curls
It doesn’t take much to feel the burn when lifting weights. Simple bicep curls are a great way to learn how your body works with weighted repetitions (or “reps”). If you are a beginner, start with five- to twenty-pound weights and practice ten reps with each arm, then repeat three times.
Tip: If you don’t have weights, grab canned goods or juice/milk jugs to get your curl on.
Whether you pranced around the living room as a kid, bobbed your head to your car radio or shimmied your way across a wedding dance floor, you probably learned a long time ago that dancing is an invigorating pastime. What better way to get the body moving, the heart pumping and the mind free from worry than dancing to your favorite song.
Try: Dancing to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
For an extended dance break, try out a new playlist (like Spotify’s Happy Dance) for more music that will keep you moving.
Tip: Freestyle dancing with no particular moves or rhythm provides an overall workout and also can help your mind relax and let go.
Always consult with a tested medical professional before starting any exercise routine.