How to Pick the Best Exercise Based on how You're Feeling

By Melinda Nicci - 14:41

Exercise has a powerful ability to change how we're thinking and how our bodies are feeling by creating a positive energy inside of us. But in order to have the most enjoyable exercise experience it helps to pick the right one. So what is the right one? It all depends on how you're feeling!

Chances are you don't want to jet out for a 10K run after a long and exhausting day at work, but you also wouldn't feel right settling into some yoga poses if you're full of energy. That's why I like to choose my workouts based on how I'm feeling that day, and what my body is telling me it needs. So if you're not in the mood for your usual workout or just can't pick which exercise you want to do today, I've got my top 6 exercise recommendations based on how you're feeling. This approach will help you mix your fitness routine up and keep things fresh, but also, choosing exercises that are designed to make you feel better will be the best positive reinforcement for sticking to your fitness plan in the long run. So here they are!

If you're feeling stressed or anxious...

Go to exercises that really emphasize the mind-body connection - particularly yoga. You'll get quiet time to yourself where you can direct all of your focus into being on the mat and in the moment. Plus, it utilizes the power of breath to help us calm ourselves down, and yoga flows will help loosen up tense muscles that can be caused by stress

  • Exercises to try: Yoga, Pilates

If you’re tired...

If you’re exhausted the last thing you want to do is take up a high energy exercise that is going to tire you out even more, because you’ll associate exercise with making you feel even worse. This can negatively impact your motivation in the long run, and you'll also be more susceptible to injury. That doesn’t mean you should skip exercise altogether though. Keep things simple with a light exercise to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping a little faster 

  • Exercises to try: Brisk 20 minute walk outside, foam rolling, dynamic stretching

If you’re angry or upset... 

Pent up emotions can be channeled into a great workout, but you have to be careful with how you release them because you don’t want to end up injuring yourself. If you’re angry about something that happened earlier in the week, go into a workout that can channel that energy safely and effectively into positive fitness results. Instructor-led classes can keep you focused and in-sync with a supportive group so you can get any negative energy out in a healthy way.

  • Exercises to try: Spin class, TRX, or HIIT

If you’re sore or injured from previous workouts...

Get in the water. The buoyancy of a water environment can alleviate joint pains and make your body feel naturally lighter. You’re at a reduced risk for injuring yourself any further. Moving around in water also gives you a natural lymphatic massage because it helps move around excess fluids, reducing swelling and inflammation, and eliminating toxins in your body. 

  • Exercises to try: Aqua-aerobics, laps in the pool

If you’re feeling lonely or struggling with motivation...

Look for team sports or competitive clubs where you can join like-minded individuals in a form of exercise that’s fun and engaging. It’s a great way to meet new people, and it’s the best motivation for sticking with it, because your teammates will be counting on you to come to any practices or games you may have.

  • Exercises to try: Any adult sporting leagues or clubs!

If you’re energized and feeling good...

Get out for a run, do your go-to resistance circuit at the gym, or take your favorite fitness class - and really push yourself! When you’re feeling good and full of energy it’s a great time to do intense workouts that you tend to enjoy because the endorphin rush will make you feel even better, and you'll become stronger at that workout. This will create a positive feedback loop that will help even further with motivation and wanting to stay active every day.

  • Exercises to try: Your favorite, go-to workout

Remember that above all you'll want to do a workout that you enjoy. There's no sense in trying out yoga for stress reduction if you're not a fan of getting on the mat, because chances are you won't enjoy it as much and it won't be beneficial to you. Use the ideas discussed above to help align your workout to how you're feeling so you can get the most out of each exercise session, both physically and emotionally!

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