The Best Workouts For Your Mental Health

We all know exercise is good for your mental health—here’s the inspiration you need to get moving.

In case you didn’t know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And while this isn’t the easiest topic to discuss, it’s crucial. Taking care of your mental health is just as if not more important than your physical health. Time and time again, studies have shown that exercise does wonders for your mental health. Ask anyone who regularly works out—they’ll sing the praises of their specific routine.

But maybe you don’t know where to start. Or maybe starting feels so scary that you can’t even bring yourself to try. Or maybe you’re just stuck in a rut and feel like your brain needs a change of pace. Whatever your reason, these are the best workouts to help improve your mental health, as told by someone who has done them all.


I will fully admit I’m biased when it comes to talking about CrossFit. It’s my go-to workout of choice. (My gym is basically my second home, at this point.) I fully enforce the stereotype of the CrossFitter who never shuts up about CrossFit. But that’s because it saved my life (physically and mentally), and I mean that with the utmost sincerity.

I started CrossFit in 2019. Five years in, and I can say I’ve never been a part of a community like this one. And that’s not just my home gym—it’s everywhere. You will not find a more welcoming and supportive community in fitness. These people genuinely care about you. Plus, the focus you have to put into the workouts forces everything else out of your head. You’re fully in your body.

There have been so many days when I did not want to get out of bed, but going to the gym to see my friends and sweat was the only thing that kept me going. Find your local gym—they’ll be so happy to have you, I promise.

Running & Walking

I will also admit I’m an avid runner, although less so since I’ve made CrossFit a part-time job. But there’s nothing that clears my head faster than going on a run. As someone who used to be a distance runner, there’s nothing quite like being outside on a clear day and just running.

Most people don’t think running would be great for your mental health since it’s more of a monotonous activity. One foot in front of the other, right? But the repetitive nature also makes it very zen and calming. Throw your headphones on with a killer playlist, and you’re set.

But I understand that not everyone enjoys running, which is why walking is also a great option. You get the same kind of stimulus without, you know, running. Just grab a pair of sneakers and go for a short jog or walk. You’ll feel so much better afterward.


Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without including yoga. I was skeptical of yoga actually being that calming when I first tried it. My biggest qualm was that it seemed too slow, that there was too much downtime, which is the worst thing for a chronic overthinker like me. But I was wonderfully surprised.

Whether I opted for a hot vinyasa-style class with bumping music or a slow yin-style class focused on opening up muscles, I was always able to tune out my thoughts and be fully in my body. I don’t do it nearly enough, but it’s essential maintenance on your body.

Take it from a skeptic who was converted, yoga really can quiet your thoughts. Or, the thoughts pass, you acknowledge them, and move on. Either way, it gives your brain a much-needed break.

Biking & Cycling

Similar to running, going for a bike ride out in nature does wonders to clear your head. There are tons of trails everywhere, making it easy to find a spot and go ride. Plenty of cities and towns also offer free bike rentals, so even if you don’t have a bike of your own, you can still hit the streets.

But if you’re looking for a different environment to bike in, try hitting up a spin class. Cycling under the lights to blasting music is an experience all its own. Plus, it gives you more of an opportunity to create a community with your fellow riders!

Literally Anything That Gets You Moving

While all of the above are great options to get you moving and help prioritize your mental health, none of it really matters if none of them sound like fun to you. The most important thing to remember is that you should enjoy whatever activity you’re doing. If you don’t, there’s no way you’re going to stick with it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s dancing around your room, playing intramural sports, or everything in between—as long as it gets you moving, it’s a step in the right direction. Your body (and brain) will thank you for it.

Don’t believe me? Take it from Liam Miller (@theprofessionaldiary), Ambassador for Sporting Wellness.

“Having some sort of exercise as part of my daily routine is a massive key factor in how I stay mentally fit. There is no better feeling than going out for a run in the morning to come back and have started your day on the right foot,” Miller says. “When exercising, it allows me to mentally clear everything in my head and I feel 100 times better. As a sporting wellness ambassador, I’m trying to help others take care of their mental health too”.