When we think of physical activity that rests the mind, the first that come to mind are probably yoga and Pilates. While the stretching, tensing and releasing of muscles has wonderful effects on the body and mind, there’s still something to be said for cardiovascular physical activity. All physical activities release endorphins of some kind, but if you’re looking for something to ease the mind, then something less strenuous and less group-focused might be your best solution.
If you enjoyed swimming as a kid, then the first whiff of chlorine will bring you back to the excitement of swimming after school or as a treat on weekends. Doing breast-stroke in well-paced lengths can be a relaxing way to enjoy swimming – it doesn’t necessarily have to be wild laps of doing the butterfly. Taking the plunge and going to your community pool is a great way of not only getting an endorphin rush, but also resurfacing some childhood memories. It’s also an age-neutral sport that has been proven to lower anxiety and depression.
Finding a sport that forces you to focus and hone in on a particular technique is great from stealing the mind away from stressful thoughts. Practicing at a driving range first is a fun way to start out and encourage peers to join in. Once you find yourself traversing a real golf course, see your skills and your health improve. It is a social sport that can take you to some beautiful locations. Kit yourself out with golf bags that reflect your personal style so you can play the round with confidence.
Running is perhaps the cheapest and most accessible form of cardio to take up. All you need is some trainers, jogging bottoms and maybe a sweater and you’re ready to go. Using a running podcast increases your distance every week until you barely notice that you’re running without breaks. The mental oasis this provides you will is something you notice after the run. The combination of the endorphin rush and having spent half an hour concentrating on the run itself means that your mind is suddenly blasted clean of any nagging worries.
While you can arguably go running with other people, cycling is a therapeutic exercise that doesn’t leave you quite so red-faced if you’re looking to exercise with friends. Going for an evening cycle during the summer evenings or journeying to somewhere new on the weekends provides a bit of respite for the brain. Taking in the scenery and concentrating on the roads ahead make for a freeing and relaxing activity.
While it’s a nice idea to go for a run or a swim, sometimes these activities aren’t necessarily accessible to us for either health or environmental reasons. Going for a walk is one of the simplest but just as effective methods of exercising. If you’ve spent the day worrying or feeling anxious, just getting out for a brisk walk can clear your mind and give you time to reassess.
The most important thing to do if you’re feeling tense and uncertain is to try and get out of the house. Whether you end up taking up a new sport or not, just seeing a new environment can be incredibly beneficial to the mind. Asking friends to join in or going alone might be the first step you take in discovering a new hobby.