5 Mood-Boosting Workouts

Whether you want to perk up, calm down, feel sharper, or just get happier, there’s a mind-altering routine for you.

To Feel More Content, Try Yoga

The science: A little down? Assume upward dog. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined the anxiety levels and moods of people who practiced yoga for an hour three times a week. Yoga practice is associated with increased levels of GABA, an amino acid and neurotransmitter that may help reduce anxiety, according to Chris Streeter, a neurologist, a psychiatrist, and the lead author of the study. Also, slow, deep yogic breathing increases oxygen flow, which leads to optimal functioning of all your organs—including your brain, according to Anita Herur, M.D., an assistant professor of physiology at S. Nijalingappa Medical College, in India. Another 2010 study, published in the Al Ameen Journal of Medical Sciences, led by Herur, looked at the physical effects of yoga on new practitioners and linked the practice to improved overall mood. The researchers found that in the study’s subjects the parasympathetic nervous system—the part of the nervous system that promotes relaxation—kicked into high gear “around three months after starting yoga,” says Herur.

Excerpted from Real Simple

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