But with so many options out there, actually deciding which one to press play on can feel daunting. Our favorite way to navigate the offerings? Based on how you feel. Below, the best modality to try depending on what mood you're in—none of which you'll have to leave your living room to enjoy.
If you're battling brain fog, try dance cardio
Brain operating slightly slower than usual? The best way to fight that meh feeling is to pop on a playlist and start shaking and shimmying. According to research, movements that require unpredictability and reaction—both of which are at the core of any good choreography—challenge your brain and stimulate the growth of new neurological pathways. “Dance-based workouts are incredibly beneficial for both mind and body because they stimulate our wired-in emotional instinct to play, which is a sorely squashed in most adults,” says neuroscientist Nan Wise, PhD. “By playing with dance, which involves moving our bodies rhythmically to music, we engage the body, mind, and brain in a form of exercise that combats the negative effects of stress burns up the stress hormones, and elicits the feel-good neurotransmitters that promote wellbeing.”
If you need an energy boost, try a Vinyasa flow
Start your day with a caffeine-free jolt by swapping your a.m. cup of coffee with some morning yoga. “If you’re trying to cut back on caffeine, practicing yoga first thing in the morning can actually help you reach that goal. Certain poses, like sun salutations, backbends, and twists, can help energize you and wake you up without any post-coffee jitters,” says Kelly Clifton Turner, director of education for YogaSix. The same principles apply all day long, so feel free to treat yourself to a mid-afternoon flow in between meetings.
If you're feeling super stressed, try a HIIT workout
When stress comes knocking during the workday, it may be time to break for a HIIT workout. Going hard—the way HIIT requires you to—helps to kick your endorphins into high gear, beating out any fight-or-flight feelings. “When you hit your 70 percent of your maximum capacity, it has a profound impact on our mood and can be huge in helping to treat some of the psychological problems related to stress and anxiety,” says Stephen Gonzalez, PhD, CMPC, a sports psychologist with the Association of Applied Sport Psychology.
If you want to boost your mood, go for a run
While you can technically get a "runner's high" by doing enough of any type of cardio, you may as well try it the old-fashioned way. An hour of pounding the pavement has been shown to boost endorphins, which can help to lower your stress levels and mitigate the effects of a bad day. Once you've logged your miles, be sure to stretch those muscles, and give them the love they deserve.
If you need to clear your head, try Pilates-inspired moves
For those days when you want to use your workout to completely tune out the world, grab a set of sliders. Pilates-inspired workouts—whether you're doing them on the machine or at home with a dish towel and a hardwood floor—tend to be so challenging, you'll have a hard time thinking about anything other than how much your muscles are shaking. Plus, the small, targeted movements (which will give you your daily dose of both cardio and strength-training) require so much focus, your mind won't have a single second to wander.
If you need to unwind, try some restorative yoga
On days when going hard isn't happening, give your body a break with some restorative yoga—which can be particularly helpful in the evening hours. “Yoga before bed can get the body out of ‘fight or flight’ response and into ‘rest and digest’ for the evening, leading to better sleep,” says yoga teacher Jess Penesso, founder of The Sweat Method. “Because we usually are going all day long, it can help signal to the body that is time to relax.” Yoga can also help you feel more mindful, which allows your brain to relax and let go of some of the worries you’ve been holding onto all day. She suggests restorative or yin style practices or treating yourself to some meditation or breath work, to best reap these benefits.
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