7 Best Exercises You Can Do When You're Feeling Sad

Exercises can help when you're feeling sad. (Image via unsplash/Gadiel Lazcano)
Exercises can help when you're feeling sad. (Image via unsplash/Gadiel Lazcano)

If you're struggling with mental health issues, battling depression, or suffering from anxiety, it's hard to get anything done, exercise included. You lack the will to get out of bed, let alone engage in a challenging physical activity. The lack of motivation means your workouts, and therefore your health, may suffer.

While it may seem like a herculean task to do so, studies have shown that exercising can help in boosting your mental health. Can it completely cure your depression? No. However, it can give you a great head start in your self-improvement journey, while also improving your mood.

Exercise is proven to release endorphins in the body, so it doesn't come as a surprise that exercising daily can greatly assist your mental health. If you need a pick-me-up or a light workout that'll get your blood flowing, we've come up with seven of the best options for you.

#1 Circuit Training

If you're feeling low and dejected, what better way to cheer you up than sweating it out? A good old circuit training session can do you a world of good. While it may seem daunting, especially when you're running low on energy, circuits are pretty versatile and you can customize your circuit exercises to match your energy levels.

Try a bodyweight circuit, as it isn't too taxing on your CNS (Central Nervous System), and doesn't tire you out as much as lifting weights, while still burning calories. You can add just about any exercise under the sun to your circuit, ranging from squats, push-ups, and crunches, to more cardio-centric exercises like high-knees, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers.


#2 Cycling

Whether it's out on the roads, in the forest, or on a stationary bike in the gym, cycling is a great exercise for you if you're feeling low. While stationary bikes won't do you much good in terms of your mood and getting some fresh air, they do offer more control over your exercise. If you're looking to break a sweat rather than get a light workout in, that should be your choice.

However, if you wish to get some fresh air and spend time in nature, cycling on a trail in a forest or in a remote area is great. Spending time in nature, while you do your workout, is an absolute bonus!

#3 Swimming

Swimming is probably the best exercise on this list, as it offers a wide array of benefits, as well as profound versatility. It's relaxing and can also burn a solid amount of calories, if that's what you're going for. You can go swimming with the objective of just relaxing and enjoying the pool, or you could try to work in a few quick laps and burn some calories.

Whatever it is, the pool offers a blank canvas in terms of what you can do with it.

#4 Meditation

When you're seeking solitude, peace, and mental stability, there's no need for anything other than meditation. Meditation is a proven remedy for weak mental health, as it boosts your mood, gives you the tranquility you need, and energizes you.

If you're suffering from a depressive energy slump, meditation might be your cup of tea. Try some basic stretches if you're new to meditation, along with some breathing exercises. This will help regulate blood flow in your body, while also helping you connect with your body and mind.

#5 Walking

Yes, a simple walk, either on the road, the treadmill, or in nature, can do a great deal to improve your mental health. If you're feeling sad and your head is clouded, going for walks to clear your head and improve your mood is a great solution.

Walking will not only strengthen your lower body muscles such as your calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quads, but also burn a great amount of calories. Walking is a great fit if you only have a few minutes to spare. Even a 15-minute walk is just fine. If you're pressed for time, or aren't looking to make a trip to the gym and expend your energy, just take a walk. It helps.

#6 Lifting Weights

This isn't the most recommended option on the list if you're struggling with mental health and unable to muster up the energy to get out of bed. However, lifting weights provides one with the opportunity to embark on a weight-training journey, and is great for your mental health.

It releases endorphins, otherwise known as the 'feel-good hormone', which boosts your mood and helps you improve your mental health. If you have the energy to do so, try lifting weights, and stick to compound lifts, i.e., exercises that train more than one body part, like squats, deadlifts and bench press. They burn the most calories and are usually enough if you're looking for a quick workout.

Enter Lifting weights can improve your mental health. (Image via unsplash/Alora Griffiths)caption
Enter Lifting weights can improve your mental health. (Image via unsplash/Alora Griffiths)caption

#7 Hiking

If you're feeling adventurous and aching to get out there, a hike might be perfect for you. Hiking will offer you the opportunity to exercise and get in a stellar workout, whilst also spending some time in solitude and breathing in the fresh air. As an all-rounder, hiking might be best for you, even if it might turn out to be an all-day affair.


The aim is to start small and work your way up. Medical researchers say that getting to the starting point is the hardest part for most people. Ideally, you want to make your workouts modest and easy to perform, so that it's not too taxing on the body.

Be more forgiving to your body and mind. Remember that you're still recovering and coming out of a low phase and that it's important to stay positive during such times. You'll find that exercises performed in solitude will benefit you more, as you'll not only be fully focused and engaged but also have some quality time with yourself.

Prioritize the exercises that bring you the most joy, and work on improving at those. The rest will follow as you get better.

Poll : Do you like light exercises or heavy exercises?

Light exercises

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Edited by Prem Deshpande
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