How Exercise Can Help Lift Our Mood at Difficult Times

Are you feeling
anxious or worried some of the time? Are you struggling with personal
challenges or everything that’s going on in the world around us? Are you
looking for ways to help cope at this difficult time?

Let me tell you about
Sally*. Sally is a member of our online exercise Studio. She’s struggling
with family concerns and worrying about world events. Sally hadn’t been in the
Studio for a week or so, as she was preoccupied and feeling low.

Then, she popped back
in to do a new exercise video (keep scrolling down to do the same video!). She posted
in our forum to say how much she enjoyed doing it, how much it helped her to
lift her mood and feel better.

Of course, doing a 10-minute
exercise video didn’t change the situation, but it did lift her mood and help
relieve some of her anxieties.

We all know exercise
is good for our physical health. That doesn’t mean we all do it, but we do know

But Do You Know
How Much Exercise Can Help Your Mental and Emotional Wellbeing?

In this article, I am
going to share how exercise can help you to deal with challenging times.
Whether it’s a family situation, what’s happening in the world around us, or
when we are facing an uncertain future, exercise can help us cope.

When we are worried or
anxious about ourselves, our families, or the world around us, it’s easy to let
our regular habits slide. Sometimes the situation forces our routines to change
and prevents us from doing our usual activities.

Unfortunately, this
means we stop doing some of the things that could help us at this difficult
time. We get out of the habit of doing regular exercise, going for walks and
being generally active. Or we just aren’t able to do these things (for example,
if we can’t leave the house to get to our class or gym session).

How Does Exercise
Help Us to Cope with These Challenges?

Exercise relieves
stress, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. It can also have
a positive impact on depression and anxiety.

Exercise promotes
changes in the brain which endorse feelings of wellbeing. It also releases
endorphins, powerful feel-good chemicals.

The enhanced
circulation from exercise will help to relax tense muscles, relieve headaches,
and reduce other symptoms of stress. When your body feels better, your mind
will, too.

What’s clear is that
exercise can improve our mood in the short term and help promote better mental
and emotional wellbeing in the longer term.

What Kind of
Exercise Is Going to Help, Though?

Any kind of exercise
is better than none. The best type, however, is one you enjoy. The more you
enjoy it, the more likely to keep doing it!

It’s also excellent to
do something that uses your full attention. Anything that fully absorbs and
engages you and takes you away from your concerns is hugely beneficial.

When you focus on your
exercises, your brain has a chance to switch off from everything else. Doing an exercise video at home can help with this,
as you don’t have to think about what to do; you just watch, listen, and follow

There’s a great saying
that at difficult times, you should ‘focus on actions, not outcomes’. You don’t
know what’s going to happen, and you may not have much control over the
outcomes, so focusing on them is only going to be detrimental. However, you can
choose your actions – what you do every day and how you spend your time.

When there are so many
things outside of our control going on around us, it can feel very unsettling,
so we need to double down on the things we can change.

When we exercise (or
just move more), we are being proactive and taking action in areas we can
control. It gives us a sense of confidence, of feeling in control of our own lives.

When you are taking
the time to exercise, it makes you feel better today. It’s also important
because you are doing something for your future.

It’s a hopeful
activity – you are doing
something for the long term. I think that sends an important message to your
psyche. That there is hope, it is worth doing things for the future.

For example, the
message might be:

  • “I’m exercising to stay strong so that I can keep up
    with my grandchildren.”
  • I’m working to improve my balance so that I can feel
    strong and steady on my feet (especially when walking on uneven surfaces).”
  • “I’m exercising to stay fit so that I can keep looking
    after my garden.”

Whatever the message
is (whatever is important to you), the key is that you are telling yourself
that you are working towards the future. I have seen a lot of people talk about
how much they benefit from this aspect of staying active.

So, What Can You
Do to Cope in Difficult Situations?

Should you start
exercising for an hour a day? Take up jogging or learn a challenging new sport?

No! Don’t set
unrealistic targets, don’t be too ambitious, and don’t make it too hard for
your self. When you are stressed and have a lot going on, you need to make it
as easy as possible. Easy isn’t cheating; it’s the key to success.

Three things will help
you get started and make it easy:

  • Do something you think you will enjoy.
  • Do something you feel confident doing.
  • Start small.

What Might This
Mean for You?

Perhaps you could go
for a 10-minute walk every morning? You will get outdoors, get fresh air, and
daylight. You may get out in nature, which also has significant mental health

Maybe don’t even set a
limit. Just say, “I’m going to walk to the end of the road and come back.” Chances
are you’ll get there and want to walk further if you can! Even if you don’t,
you will walk there and back, and you will feel better afterwards.

If you decide to try
using online exercise videos, don’t start with a 45-minute video! Choose one
that lasts for 5 minutes. Do it, enjoy it, and feel good about what you have
done. The easier it is, the more likely to do it again the next day.

Here’s the Wake Up,
Warm Up! video from our online exercise Studio that helped Sally to
feel better. It’s less than 3 minutes long, so it’s super easy for you to click
play and do it with me now.

src=”″ width=”640″
height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”autoplay;
fullscreen” allowfullscreen></iframe>

If you would like to
exercise from home, take a look at the Vida Wellness Studio where you can enjoy an extensive Video Library and an
informative Knowledge Zone with professional advice from expert instructors.

*Sally was happy for
me to write about her story, but I have changed her name to protect her privacy.

How does exercise
affect your mood?
Have you noticed positive changes in mood
after you exercise? Please share with our community!