The Best Workouts To Get Your Head Zen

It’s not going to come as any surprise to hear that there’s a connection between exercising and feeling happier. But did you know that there are certain kinds of workouts that might be especially good at reducing stress and anxiety? While you’ll get a positivity boost every time you do a workout you love, here are three that science has shown can really help give your mood a lift:

High Intensity Interval Training

If you’re a fan of slow-and-steady workouts, you might want to sprinkle in a few more intense bouts of activity. Research shows high-intensity weight training and aerobic exercise is more effective than lower intensity workouts at improving depression. Try it yourself with this body weight interval workout from Emily Jacques, a trainer with Burn 60. It alternates bursts of strength moves with cardio and rest.

Strength section #1

20 seconds squats or squat jumps

20 seconds walkout shoulder taps: Start standing, then bend over, put your hands on the floor, and walk them out until you’re in a plank position. Tap each shoulder with the opposite hand twice, then walk your hands back in and stand back up.

20 seconds V-ups: Stand lying on the floor, then simultaneously lift your hands and feet up to meet over your torso (keep your legs straight as long as possible).

20 seconds single leg glute bridges on each leg: Lie on your back with legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift one leg off the ground, then push up with the other heel and lift your hips as high as possible.

30 seconds of rest

Cardio section #1

30 seconds of high knees

10 seconds of rest

30 seconds burpees

10 seconds of rest

30 seconds sit ups

30 seconds of rest

Strength section #2

30 seconds squats or squat jumps

30 seconds walkout shoulder taps

30 seconds V-ups

30 seconds single leg glute bridges on each leg

45 seconds of rest

Cardio section #2

45 seconds of high knees

10 seconds of rest

45 seconds burpees

10 seconds of rest

45 seconds sit ups

45 seconds of rest

Strength section #3

40 seconds squats or squat jumps

40 seconds walkout shoulder taps

 40 seconds V-ups

40 seconds single leg glute bridges on each leg

45 seconds of rest

Cardio section #3

60 seconds of high knees

10 seconds of rest

60 seconds burpees

10 seconds of rest

60 seconds sit ups

Cycling

Ready to pedal your way to positivity? Research shows that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling helped keep mood high afterwards, even if you are exposed to an anxiety trigger. Since just spinning your feet can get boring, try this routine from Studio Three master cycle instructor Sayre Masters:

 4 minutes of a moderate effort warm-up

40 seconds going all out (80-100% effort) / 20 seconds recovery (x5)

20 seconds going all out (80-100% effort) / 10 seconds recovery (x10)

2 minutes of 50-75% effort steady riding

40 seconds going all out (80-100% effort) / 20 seconds recovery (x5)

20 seconds going all out (80-100% effort) / 10 seconds recovery (x10)

4 minutes of moderate effort cool down

Yoga

This one is going to come as no surprise, but studies show that yoga can reduce depression symptoms as well as anxiety. It might be due to either increased mindfulness or that people who practice yoga are better able to regulate their autonomic nervous system, which is associated with both depression and anxiety. Try this series of poses by Ashley Kohler, a yoga teacher and senior manager of fitness at Destination Kohler.

Hero Pose: “This pose allows you to breathe more consciously, leading to greater awareness of the body and breath, creating a calming focus,” says Kohler. To do it, kneel on the floor with knees touching, knees slightly outside your hips. Sit back between your feet and lift up your chest (be proud, like a hero would be!).

link out to an image of this pose ^^

Standing Wide Arm Back Bend: This pose helps relax the lower back and, according to Kohler, the upward gaze activates a sense of relaxation. Start in a standing position, feet hip distance apart. Reach your arms overhead and touch your palms together. Gently start bending backwards while pushing hips forward. Bend only as far as is comfortable and hold for a few breaths.

Tree Pose: This one brings all of your focus onto staying balanced (meaning you can’t think about how much your boss is stressing you out). From a standing position, shift your weight onto your right foot. Then lift your left foot up, bend your knee, and place the sole of your left foot against the inner thigh of your right leg (pressing the sole of your foot and your inner thigh together will help you balance). Keep your focus on something a little in front of you. After a few breaths, try on the other side.

Savasana: This is the classic final pose of yoga classes and its entire purpose is to be restorative. Lie on your back, legs straight, arms at your sides, palms up. Relax your body, even—and especially—parts that you might not usually focus on, like your jaw and tongue. Lie still with your eyes closed for five minutes.

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