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June 2023

How to Get Moving and Boost Your Mood

Jumping jacks, going for a walk, or hitting the courts: All these activities and more can lift your spirits. But even though exercise is a known stress-buster, the thought of moving more when you’re feeling down, anxious, or stressed out might not seem all that appealing. How can you take the first step toward starting a healthy routine when you lack the energy?

The good news is that you don’t have to make a major life overhaul to establish or keep up an exercise program. Research shows that even a small amount of activity benefits your physical and mental health. Here are some tips to help get you moving.

Find your why

Begin by changing your outlook. Instead of thinking about physical activity as something you should do, consider why it’s something you might want to do. Then write down those reasons. For example, does being active make you feel mentally or physically stronger? Do you find it fun or relaxing? Turn to your list the next time you’re lacking inspiration.

Set the pace

Your path to fitness is exactly that—yours. And that means you can find a routine that suits your style. For example, some experts believe that a 10-minute walk may offer the same mood-boosting benefits as a 45-minute workout. So if you need to start off slow, that’s OK. You can work your way up to longer workouts or more challenging activities over time.

Do what you enjoy

The best activity—and the one you’re most likely to stick to—is one you like. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a bike ride, or an online yoga class, find something that brings you pleasure. Experts recommend a combination of aerobic activity and strength training for physical health—and both types can improve mood and reduce anxiety.

Keep yourself on track

Maybe exercise has been a goal of yours for a while, but every week you find yourself short on time. Try adding movement to your calendar so it’s part of your regular schedule. If you feel up to it, invite a friend to join you for extra support and motivation. If you miss a few activity sessions, don’t sweat it—just start over. The most important thing is that you’re working toward feeling better.


Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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