We could all do with a little cheering up at the moment, and exercise is a great way for your body to produce serotonin to help boost your mood.
“Serotonin is a hormone produced in the body which signals to the brain when we’re feeling happy and there are plenty of ways to stimulate the body’s production of this important hormone,” says Steven Virtue, fitness content and programming manager at Total Fitness.
“One of the quickest and most effective ways to help your body produce serotonin is to break a sweat and many forms of exercise will even allow you to incorporate some of the other serotonin-boosters previously mentioned into your workout, too.”
The five exercises below are particularly effective for stimulating the production and release of serotonin.
Dancing is a great form of aerobic exercise that gets the blood pumping and the heart-rate up.
Pair the physical challenges of this energetic activity with the mood-boosting benefits of music and you’ve already ticked two of the serotonin product boxes, meaning you’re onto winner.
What’s more, dancing is something that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy, so regardless of whether you’re a salsa-pro or you’ve got two left feet, simply having a go is enough to burn some serious calories and get the serotonin flowing.
For a next-level dancing challenge, why not get on board with this season’s latest social media craze and challenge yourself to learn a TikTok dance routine?
Running is one of those love it or hate it exercises that really divides people, but like many things in life, it can become enjoyable with a little practice.
Running is one of the best ways to produce serotonin naturally and so if you can stick with it past those first few runs, you’ll reap huge rewards.
For those struggling to keep at it, there are resources available that can help you structure your running development, such as the NHS Couch to 5K which provides a guide to gently building up stamina and fitness in short achievable sessions over a series of weeks.
For those that simply loathe the idea of pounding the pavements another option with similar mood-boosting benefits is cycling.
During lockdown you can make the most of your hour outside by getting on your bike and giving your legs a good workout.
Whether you’re living with a housemate or looking for ways to occupy the kids, cycling is something that can be hugely enjoyable as a group activity.
Remember, the harder you work the more serotonin your body will produce, so if you’re in need of a bigger boost, opt for a more challenging route with inclines or simply take the longer route.
Yoga is a fantastic way to reduce anxiety and stress levels thanks to its combination of calming breathing techniques and muscle-relaxing stretches that release physical tension.
Total Fitness recently commissioned a study of 2,006 UK adults which identified that as many as 40 percent of millennials regularly practice yoga and of those, one in three feel less anxious and stressed afterwards.
The combination of deep targeted breathing and slow stretching helps to relieve physical tension in the body and slow down the heart-rate, both of which aid relaxation and will have you feeling better in no time.
A brisk walk
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that walking is exercise and, just like other activities that get you moving, walking also helps the body produce happy endorphins.
Ideal for those who are new to exercise or are living with injuries, a brisk walk can help transform a bad day into a good day by stimulating the production of serotonin – and as an added bonus, 30 minutes of brisk walking will also burn between 100-300 calories.
For additional pick-me-up benefits, why not plug into some music on your walk while you enjoy the sunshine and take in the beauty of nature? This in itself is a fantastic mood-booster.