Lifting Mood with Movement | Great Health Guide
Lifting Mood with Movement

Lifting Mood with Movement

Written by Jane Kilkenny accredited athletics coach

Moods and emotions play a huge part in how we feel every day. Some days we feel great, ready to take on any challenge that comes our way. But what do we do on the days when we feel flat and unmotivated? Knowing how to give yourself a dose of positivity gives you back the control needed to improve your outlook and change your perceptions.

Teenagers have a particularly challenging time with mood and emotions because multitude of issues arise in their lives. School and social pressures add to the internal turmoil of hormonal and growth issues, often exacerbated by some poor lifestyle choices and reduced sleep. Is it any wonder we are seeing increasing levels of anxiety in our teenagers!

“Movement, in any form, produces

natural mood enhancers.”

Sport is a fantastic physical and emotional outlet for them, as it combines exercise with social activity and allows them the time and space for some healthy competition and fun. Sport provides some key life lessons for our teens, such as improving performance with practice and training, winning and losing with dignity, and the value of teamwork for success. All these factors will impact their future success, not just on the sporting field but in life and relationships.

Daily challenges need to be met with individual solutions and having the ability to improve mood and emotions is a life changing skill to possess. Teaching our teens to manage their moods and emotions with positive movement will have a major impact on their health.

Understanding how your body reacts to stress and the steps you can take to control it, will avoid the quick fixes that we often reach for, including food, alcohol and screen stimulation. How many times do we reach for chocolate, or similar, when we are feeling flat and tired? How about watching TV to relax, when really, we are just zoning out and snacking? These options become a negative part of the cycle that exacerbate low mood and fatigue.

Movement, in any form, produces natural mood enhancers, (neurochemicals) you just need to find what works for you. High intensity exercise will deliver a great dose of endorphins and have you buzzing for hours, resulting in high levels of focus and improved concentration. Lower intensity activity will also improve mood and reduce stress so it becomes a case of choosing what you need on any particular day, and some days you may need both!

Understanding that we have an internal ability to control stress and mood, gives you the ultimate power of choice. The teenage years are the perfect time to learn this. It may take time trying several different options to find what works for you, but the important aspect is, to keep trying.

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Some great high intensity options for teenagers include running, weight training, mountain biking or hiking. Or maybe just grab a few friends and shoot some hoops or kick a footy. As long as you are raising your heart rate and breaking into a sweat you will feel the positive benefits. Some great lower intensity options include walking and Pilates. Walking with a friend is sometimes the best way to reduce stress and relax.

For you to get the most out of your exercise, you also need to get good quality sleep, as a lack of sleep will flatten your mood and limit your ability to perform. The two go hand in hand in performance and health for all daily tasks, including study.

Deciding what type of movement that you need on any particular day is purely a matter of choice. High intensity exercise will increase heart rate and make you sweat. Low intensity exercise can include stretching and a focus on breathing. Both will lift your mood and give you the control to decide what you need, depending on how you feel. Don’t hesitate, just move your body.

Author of this article:

Jane Kilkenny has over 25 years’ experience in health and fitness. She specialises in exercise for kids and teenagers having trained at the Children’s Hospital Institute of Sports Medicine (CHISM) Westmead NSW in 2004. She is also a High-Performance specialist and a Level 4 IAAF athletics coach. Jane can be contacted via her website.

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