Life will be overwhelming at times. And when it is, it’s important to maintain a sense of clarity, calm, and balance, even when stress and anxiety hit. For many of us, exercising is how we achieve that. And even if we’re not able to hit the gym or visit our favorite yoga studio, there’s no reason not to squeeze in a good sweat session when our minds and bodies need them. As we know, the Internet makes everything possible, including taking fun workout classes from the comfort of your own home. There's no pressure to use equipment - you can use your body weight or some light weights, it's up to you! Check out these five workout ideas that will get your body moving and your mood boosted:
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1. HIIT Circuits
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, involves completing bursts of high-intensity activity interspersed with low-to-moderate intensity activity (for example, one minute of sprinting, two minutes of jogging, and then repeating the cycle). Not only are HIIT workouts killer calorie-burners, but because they’re a form of anaerobic exercise, they’re also effective mood boosters. According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Psychology, moderate-intensity anaerobic exercise is associated with greater mood improvements over other types of exercise.
Best of all, you can do a HIIT workout from pretty much anywhere. Try this Tabata-style full-body HIIT workout, or this equipment-free Pilates HIIT circuit to get those endorphins going. All you need is a mat and enough space to move freely in.
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Yoga is a holistic approach to wellness: it puts body, mind, and breath into focus, making it an excellent source of mood-boosting neurochemicals. Just an hour of yoga can trigger your brain to fire off greater gamma-aminobutyric levels (neuroinhibitors that affect your mood), while deep, rhythmic breathing has been proven to quell anxiety and anger.
Thankfully, we don’t have to leave the house to get our daily dose of endorphins. Yoga abounds on YouTube, with channels like cult-favorite Yoga With Adriene., Fightmaster Yoga, and Boho Beautiful providing free, expert-led stretch sessions you can do from your bedroom floor. All you need is a mat and some breathing room; but if you want, get creative with it and light candles, put on some calming music, or set up on your patio - and do whatever else might help make your yoga practice as healing and relaxing as possible.
Dance has been the go-to for lifting spirits since pretty much the dawn of time. Even if you’ve never considered yourself much of a dancer, YouTube is teeming with dance classes you can access for free. Better yet, it’s totally cool if you accidentally step left rather than right or hit the move a half a beat too soon. Nobody’s here to judge you in the comfort of your own home!
Break out a sweat with this free 30-minute Latin cardio dance class, sculpt your abs with this 10-minute core dance workout, or channel your inner Hollywood star with dance classes from celebrity trainer Simone de la Rue.
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4. Tai Chi and Qigong
Tai Chi and Qigong are traditional Chinese martial arts practices. They’ve been long revered for their relaxing capabilities, as both center heavily on breathing and mindfulness. Tai Chi and Qigong involve implementing a series of flowing movements while emphasizing mental focus, breathing, coordination, and relaxation. In turn, they’ve been known to reverse symptoms of anxiety and clinical depression. You can practice Tai Chi and Qigong anywhere you like.
Here’s a simple, soothing introduction to Qigong and a tutorial for mastering the first steps of Tai Chi.
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5. Core Workouts
Targeting your core is an effective way to build up strength and confidence — no equipment needed. Benefits of strengthening your abs and obliques include improved balance and stability, better posture, and in some cases, diminished back pain.
Here’s a great 15-minute core workout that you can do at home. Bonus: it’ll tone up your arms, too! You can also try working out alongside this 15-minute workout video.
Bonus: when you’re not able to exercise with friends, work out with a buddy via FaceTime or video chat! It’s always more fun to have a friend there to push you — even if it has to be virtual for the time being.