Ever been mad as a bull and let loose on a punching bag? Ever been miserable and gone for a long walk? How about happy- do you work out harder or are you more relaxed? Find out how your state of mind can affect the way you exercise…
Happy, ecstatic, excited
When you are in one of these states of mind, you have happy brain chemicals floating around, you are more likely to be optimistic about what you can achieve in a workout and overdo things, pushing yourself a little further than what your body is ready for.
Your energy is also likely to be contagious, so if you are in a group exercise class your energy will probably rub off on those around you, helping them become more motivated themselves.
You also may find you make more mistakes, aren’t as controlled with your movements, and are gravitating towards explosive and fun movements more than gentle ones. Think dancing, aerobics with loud music, doing circuits with a loud and encouraging PT egging you on. All that extra energy needs to go somewhere!
Calm, happy and energised
A little less intense than the above, this is more a general feeling of being content rather than ecstatic. This is when you are generally going to be at your peak performance- you are not so excited that you overdo it, you can accurately judge how much you are capable of, your reaction times and accuracy are at their peak, and you can make good decisions which can be very helpful in a team sports situation.
You aren’t experiencing any significant emotions at this time, either negative or positive. You are likely to put out an average output in your workout, just going through the motions, getting through it, with a moderate amount of energy.
About 25 minutes into your workout you may find that your energy levels and mood start to pick up a little, this can be attributed to those feel good endorphins that have started to affect your entire system. Take advantage of this and push yourself a little further.
Stressed tired or anxious
A minor level of negative emotion is experienced here, and you may feel distracted, overwhelmed, or respond poorly to changes in your workout routine. It might be best to stick to one you know well, that you don’t perceive as being very difficult or overwhelming with details or tracking reps or sets or including complex movements that require a lot of concentration.
After your workout you may find that these negative feelings have been reduced and you are closer to a neutral or even clam and happy mindset. There is a reason exercise is promoted as a mood booster after all.
Frustrated, disappointed, angry
This is an intense state, where you have a lot of pent up emotion that needs an outlet- think running, jumping, punching, kicking, swimming. Cardio at a fairly high intensity, dynamic movement, and loud music. Go until you feel some relief, but don’t expect a cure.
These kinds of emotions are generally triggered by events in our lives, and time can often be the only thing that will cause them to go away, but exercise may offer a way to offload these feelings regularly so that they don’t get bottled up and take you to the brink of exploding.
Depressed, hopeless, desperate
For starters, being in this state is very unlikely to give you a lot of motivation to exercise. In fact even the idea of adding anything else to your plate can feel completely overwhelming. In this case it pays to think small. Walk around the block. Do some yoga, stretching, or tai chi- something soothing and relaxing.
If the way you are feeling is a result of clinical depression or anxiety, trying to work towards including 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily has been found to be as effective as medication. If you state is a result of an event in your life, exercise can be useful as a temporary distraction and a way to calm your mind. Deep breathing, especially during exercise can be particularly helpful.