Movement is essential for brain and body health. Regular exercise has a profound impact on cognitive function; it improves mood and memory and reduces the risk of developing depression by 35%. Not to mention, staying active can reduce your risk of other chronic health issues including obesity, heart disease and cancer. To positively impact your mental health this winter, we’ve rounded up seven fun, free ways to boost your mood with at-home workouts.
1. Search for your Favorite Workouts on YouTube
Working out at home has never been easier with the help of YouTube. Whether you love to practice yoga or sweat it out in a spin class, there’s a workout video waiting for you. Subscribe to channels you like and get notified when a new class has been uploaded. And with the help of smartphones and tablets, you can take these workouts virtually anywhere. Lay out a beach towel in the backyard and get started today!
2. Try a Free Fitness App or Website
With social distancing guidelines still in effect, many local gyms are offering ways to enjoy your membership from home. Check with your local gym to see if they offer classes on their own app. If not, there are plenty of free resources available including the Down Dog app for yoga lovers, Disney Inspired Workouts for the whole family, and the Go4Life Program for older adults. Download an app or visit a program’s website and follow along for a free workout routine straight from your home.
3. Boost Mood on Zoom: Schedule a Group Workout
Gather a few friends or family members and schedule a time to work out together using videoconferencing. Find a class to try together or take turns suggesting workouts to do. By being active together, you can mutually reinforce positive behaviors, share challenges and encourage each other. Consider making your group sessions routine by sweating together weekly or bi-monthly.
4. Cruise Your Neighborhood
Take your at-home workouts outside by going for a run, walk or stroll through your neighborhood. Enjoy all of the benefits of exercise along with the mood-boosting effects of being in nature. Bring a pet, invite a friend or take a quiet moment for yourself.
5. Dance Yourself into a Better Mood
Another great way to get your heart pumping is to dance. Put on some of your favorite music and move in a way that feels good to you. Short on time? Consider coupling your dance session with some housework, just move at a pace fast enough to get your heart pumping.
6. Use Your Own Body Weight
Try lunges, sit ups, push-ups, wall-sits, planks and other body weight exercises for a fun, equipment-free workout. Set aside time for a full sweat session or squeeze in some extra activity while watching TV (or even just during the commercials).
7. Get Creative to Improve Mood
No weights, no problem. If you want to switch up your body-weight routine, there are many household items that can be used as alternatives to gym equipment:
- Swap a kettle bell for full container of laundry detergent or milk
- Soup cans can double as small weights
- Fill up a backpack and use it as weighted vest. You can wear the backpack while doing squats, lunges, pushups or even while doing chores
- Use a chair or the couch for triceps dips and glute bridges
- If you have access to stairs, use them as your own personal Stairmaster
- If you have a full laundry basket of clothes that need to be folded, use the basket for deadlifts
No matter which option you choose, remember that every minute of movement counts— especially when you sweat. Adding physical activity to things you already do at home can help make exercise routine. Try adding 5, 7 or 15 minutes of exercise to your pre-shower routine, standing while at your computer or taking a brisk walk while enjoying your morning coffee.