Science has long proven the link between elevated mood and exercise. Physical exertion releases endorphins, which give the body and brain a natural high that can’t help but improve one’s overall mood and focus. Here are 6 simple mood-boosting exercises that don’t require a lot of time, space, or fancy equipment to accomplish.

mindfulness and brain cognitive function

Yoga

All you need is some floor space, nonrestrictive clothing, and a little time. The combination of balance, stretching, and breathing increases oxygen to all parts of your body, including your brain. Studies have long shown yoga practitioners have reduced stress and anxiety levels and improved overall focus. Whether you’re trying to boost flexibility, lose weight, or calm frazzled nerves, yoga has many styles to practice to fit your needs.

Exercise

Walking or Running

Taking a simple walk or jog around your neighborhood or at a nearby park is a great way to get the blood pumping. Cardiovascular movement increases the flow of oxygen and releases endorphins, often called “runner’s high,” which can elevate your mood for hours afterward. Proximity to nature adds the chance to absorb Vitamin D, another mood enhancer, and all that fresh air and beauty of the outdoors can make a simple trek a magnificent experience.

Dancing

Not only does dancing not feel like exercise, with the variety of dancing styles, there’s no end to the amount of fun one can have. Taking a class with a partner or alone can provide a sense of accomplishment and learning, as well as getting a chance to socialize. Because dancing is also a form of self expression, it increases the connection between mind and body, fostering a sense of purpose and self confidence in just being yourself.

Tai Chi

A blend of martial arts and meditative moves, Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that requires balance, muscle relaxation, mental concentration, and relaxed breathing. It doesn’t require a great deal of space to perform, and the increased strength, balance, and flexibility one achieves can be very empowering. Performing the moves can improve mindfulness and centering yourself in your body to show what it is capable of.

Bounce

While this one does require a piece of equipment—a trampoline—bouncing around works the legs and core of a body in ways many other exercises don’t. It’s fun, can be done alone or with others, and it doesn’t take much before the laughter kicks in. There are even trampoline dodge ball games to be had at places like Sky Zone.

Meditating is important for your health. Learn the benefits of meditation.

Stretching

Don’t underestimate the benefits of a good stretch, especially if you don’t have a lot of time for exercise. A simple hamstring stretch, runner’s pose, or touching your toes gets the blood flowing, relaxes your muscles, and increases oxygen. Find a wall, put your toes on the baseboard, and lean toward the wall with a slight bend to your knee for a great calf stretch. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and put one ankle on the opposite knee, then twist to the side until the sole of the foot resting against your knee touches the floor. Leave your arms spread to the sides, and repeat for the other leg. You’ll feel the pull from your hamstrings to your shoulders, and all you need is a bit of floor space. Taking a few minutes to stretch each muscle group limbers your body, increases blood flow, deepens your breathing, and resets your mind so you can focus on the rest of your day.

 

Whatever your mood-boosting exercise of choice, even a few minutes a day of movement and breathing can help physically and mentally to soothe nerves and improve brain function. People who move more, regardless of how, achieve better sleep, cope better with stress, and overall have a more positive mood than those who don’t.


Combine these mood-boosting movement tips with our free 9-week nutrition program to help you lose weight, feel better inside and out, and change your mindset for long-term health.

Dr. Vickery appeared on ABC News 13’s Spotlight Carolina and discussed how to improve your mindset, master stress, increase your willpower, feel more well rested, eat better and lose weight, exercise and choose your Authentic Health with key habit resources.

Check out the video here:

It’s no doubt smartphones have changed our lives. They have made keeping in touch with loved ones easier. They have frustrated parents of teenagers. They have put the world at our fingertips, but they’ve increased the pace of our lives to frenetic levels. There are arguments both for and against smartphones, but are they making us unhealthy?

There’s an app for that

Smartphones make technology more easily accessible than ever, and because of this, the app market has capitalized on ways to make us healthier. FitBit is the number 1 health and fitness app, and there’ve been staggering amounts of data captured by the app—90 billion hours of heart rate data, 85 trillion steps, 5.4 billion nights of sleep, and 167 billion minutes of exercise. Apps for tracking nutrition have helped millions of people identify the things in their diets they should and shouldn’t be eating, improve their diets. Apps like My Fitness Pal, which tracks not only diet but exercise as well, we have access to convenient, easy, and more often than not free wellness data that no diet and exercise journal can compete with.

Apps help us manage our wellbeing and time, from grocery delivery to mapping out a drive to a place we’ve never been. One of the top apps in 2017 has been Calm, a mindfulness and meditation app, and helps with sleep. Another app, Headspace, offers mindfulness and meditation guided practice. Cook Smarts and Pepperplate apps put meal planning for the health conscious eater front and center. Cook Smarts even has information about learning to cook.

We can manage our finances with the touch of a button, refill prescriptions, monitor our food intake and our exercise patterns, train for marathons, get better sleep, and overall reduce our stress levels with the use of creative, innovative, and forward-thinking apps.

The fear of missing out on something online means plenty of people are missing out on what’s right in front of them.

The trade-off for smartphones…

But with every good thing, there are often drawbacks. People report increased anxiety if they don’t have their phone on them at all times. Social media helps us connect with people all across the world, but common complaints revolve around a bigger disconnect than ever before. People aren’t looking away from their phones to experience life in person. The fear of missing out on something online means plenty of people are missing out on what’s right in front of them.

The question of whether or not our smartphone habits contribute to increased rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies has been asked more than once. Teenagers who report spending more time on their phones and less interacting face-to-face with their friends report higher incidents of depression and a greater sense of detachment. While the research isn’t definitive, it’s definitely something to consider.

There are also correlations between smartphone usage inhibiting healthy sleep patterns, either from staying up too late to check the news or social media, or because they emit light and noise even in the middle of the night. Blue light in smartphone screens is interpreted by the brain as daylight, which suppresses melatonin production, the hormone affecting our circadian rhythms. Phone designers have tried to account for this by introducing night modes, which change screen coloring to reduce blue light. So those who read in bed on a device, or use their phone as an alarm clock, aren’t subjected to the brain stimulating nature of their phone screen during nighttime hours.

The benefits versus the drawbacks of smartphones have valid arguments on both sides. The enhancements to our lives made by smartphones are difficult to dispute, but society has changed as a result. We’re more connected than ever, and yet, we’re also more distracted. Keeping in mind the many ways our behavior has changed thanks to the devices in our pockets, we can take steps to ensure we reap the benefits while being mindful of the detriments.