Exercise has been shown in numerous studies to be an effective reliever of stress, anxiety, and depression. Exercise releases the feel-good chemicals in the brain called dopamine and serotonin that improve mood and help fight mental health disorders. Some experts even believe that exercise is as effective as prescription drugs to treat anxiety and depression.
You and your clients don’t always need a long strenuous training session in the gym to reap the rewards of the mood-boosting effects of exercise. Just a 10-15 minute workout or fast-paced walk around the block can have marked effects on feelings, attitude, and mood.
Here is a sample 10 minute bodyweight routine that can be done anywhere. Teach it to your clients so they can do it on their own when they’re feeling down or anxious. Each exercise is performed for 30 or 60 seconds with as many repetitions as possible while maintaining good form. Give the gift of a mood boost by encouraging people to repeat this short 5-minute circuit 2-3x depending on how much time and energy they have.
Jumping Jacks – 60 Seconds
- Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides.
- As you jump both feet out to the sides, swing your arms out until your hands are above your head so your body resembles an X.
- Hop both feet back together at the same time as you swing your arms back to your sides. This is one repetition.
Pushups – 30 Seconds
- Lie on the floor face down and place your hands a little wider than shoulder width and with your arms extended.
- On an inhale slowly lower your body towards the floor until your chest is about 3-4 inches off the floor.
- Exhale as you push yourself back up to the start position using your chest muscles.
Plank – 60 Seconds
- Lay on the floor supporting your body weight with your forearms and your toes. Aim to have your elbows directly under your shoulders and a flat back.
- Keep your core tight and hold this position for the recommended time. To make this exercise harder you can lift up one leg at a time 3-4 inches off the ground.
Bodyweight Squats – 30 Seconds
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Begin the movement by bending your knees and hips, sitting back with your hips.
- Continue down until your thighs are just below parallel (if you can), pause for a second then push through your heels as you bring your hips forward and straighten your legs. Focus on keeping your head and chest up.
Bicycle Crunches- 30 seconds
- Lay flat on your back and lift your shoulders off the floor and bring your left knee to your right elbow while straightening your right leg.
- Without relaxing the torso or returning your shoulders to the floor, repeat on the other side – using a bicycle-pedaling motion, to bring your right knee toward your left elbow.
- Extend your legs out only as far as is comfortable without arching your back. Alternate in this pedaling motion until you finish the set, keeping the movement slow and controlled.
Alternating Reverse Lunges- 60 seconds
- Start in a standing position.
- Begin by taking a step to the backward, bending the front knee to lower your body until the front knee is 90 degrees. The leg stepping back will also bend and stay on the ball of the foot. Keep your spine neutral.
- After a brief pause, return to the starting position by pushing through the heel of the front leg to straighten the leg back to a standing position.
- Repeat the movement with the opposite leg and continue alternating until the time is up.
Mountain Climbers – 30 seconds
- Start in a high plank position with your palms on the ground, head, back, and hips all in line.
- Drive your right knee forward towards your arms. Quickly switch feet and drive your left knee forward. This is one repetition, but this exercise can also be done for time.
This short series of exercises or even a 10-15 minute brisk walk around the block can help anyone shake a bad mood and recharge the body and brain to be happier and more focused. Aside from releasing feel-good chemicals in the brain, exercise has also been shown to improve memory, focus, and cognition so if you have a big test or project to work on try to get some exercise in beforehand for best results.