Any exercise or physical activity that gets the heart rate up and the blood flowing and releases endorphins is going to raise your energy level. Good cardiovascular exercises will strengthen your heart and give you more stamina.
Aerobic exercise, according to a review of studies published in March 2014 in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, has been shown to be among the best when it comes to helping ease symptoms of depression.
But lower-intensity exercise, such as yoga, has also shown potential benefits when it comes to mood. Research suggests yoga may help reduce depression and anxiety, and a study published in September 2016 in the journal Depression and Anxiety found that six weeks of yoga, in addition to standard treatment for depression, reduced depressive symptoms.
Physical activity, even if it’s not intense, routine exercise, was associated with lower levels of depression in a study published in March 2016 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
And a study published in September 2018 in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, which analyzed data collected from 1.2 million adults age 18 and older in 2011, 2013, and 2015, found that individuals who reported exercising also reported having fewer days of poor mental health in the month preceding the survey, and that all types of exercise (including running, cycling, walking, gym exercise, winter sports, and others) were linked to a lower mental health burden overall.
Which are the best energy-boosting exercises? It’s really up to you and what you like to do. “It’s not going to work if you don’t like it. It’s got to be something that’s enjoyable that serves the aerobic goal,” says Gotlin. He also points out that it’s important to maintain a healthy diet, cut out the sweets, and increase protein to rebuild muscles to reap the most benefits from your workouts.
Pick something that you enjoy. Play a game of basketball, football, or tennis. Go jogging or walking with a friend, or go for a bike ride. Take some time for yourself and rock out to music or watch a favorite TV show while you step away the miles on an elliptical or stair-climbing machine at the gym. Go for a hike, or take your kids outside to the park and play with them.
You can also try aerobic classes — a kickboxing or other martial arts class, a spinning class, or any aerobic fitness class offered by a local gym.
The key is to find what you enjoy, stick with it, and reap the ongoing benefits of a regular workout routine.