Updated: 2020, Sep 10

6 Different Workout Tools That Can Boost Your Mental Health

COVID-19 has given the home workout craze an unexpected booster shot. Try these tools to release tension and get in better shape than you’ve been in years—or perhaps ever.
6 Different Workout Tools That Can Boost Your Mental Health
Best workout tools to boost mental health. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Who knew that a global pandemic could be a boost to a nation’s overall health? As it turns out, COVID-19 has given the home workout craze an unexpected booster shot. Time reports that a full quarter of people who once held gym memberships don’t expect to return. Instead, they’ve discovered that getting fit doesn’t require heading to a separate location. A bedroom, backyard, or nearby park can be a training ground for shedding fat, building muscle, and upping positivity.

In fact, the renewed enthusiasm for rediscovering fitness offers myriad mental health benefits. And currently, mental health is a huge issue. Coronavirus shelter-in-place regulations mixed with an uncertain economy and teetering job outlook have caused the self-reported depression to soar nationwide. Exercise, sometimes in tandem with professional help, can reduce the symptoms of waning mental health. After all, working out releasing feel-good endorphins throughout the body. (And the fact that it’s a good way to avoid the so-called Quarantine 15 makes it a true winner!)

If you’ve felt fatigued, burned out, or overly stressed, you may want to ratchet up your workout game. Try these tools to release tension and get in better shape than you’ve been in years—or perhaps ever.

1. Cycling products

Remember when riding your bike was something you did to get from place to place as a kid? It’s time to reinvest in the fun and challenge of cycling. You don’t have to train for a century race to get benefits, either. Even if you just tool around your neighborhood, you’ll get your heart and adrenaline pumping. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons and scenery, as well as spend time in mood-enhancing sunlight. (Tip: Always wear your sunscreen to avoid burns.)

Not sure you have the stamina to tackle major roadways all the time or keep up with your kids? Consider investing in an electric cruiser bike. Ebikes allow you to pedal when you want and take a breather when you’re gassed. Even if you only use your leg power half the time, you’ll still be doing something to improve your stamina and enjoy nature’s bounty.

2. Yoga items

Want to get your brain to stop buzzing? Feel like your mind is traveling at a million miles an hour from morning until evening? Meditation and yoga could be the answer to your issues.

Well-known for helping exercisers attain a sense of peace and calm, yoga has arisen as a popular form of exercise. Not only can you do yoga anywhere from your back porch to the bedroom to the climate-controlled garage, but you can practice different forms and variations. For instance, ashtanga yoga focuses on movement and breathing, giving your core and other muscles an intense workout. On the other hand, hatha yoga leans more toward meditation, focusing your brainpower while moving into simpler poses.

If you’re not sure how to get started, visit the app store for some great yoga apps. Being able to learn right from your phone makes it harder for you to skip a session or make excuses for not engaging in some yoga goodness.

3. Treadmills and ellipticals

Did you allow your gym membership to lapse? You may have a bit of nostalgia for some of the equipment, if not the atmosphere. While buying treadmills, ellipticals, and other home fitness items do require a bit of an investment, it can pay off. As an added incentive, you’ll be able to get some HIIT (high interval intensity training) accomplished day or night. That’s great if your schedule turns crazy and you have back-to-back Zoom meetings from sunup until sundown.

The biggest caveat to making a major purchase is having the right place to store your stuff. A treadmill doesn’t easily fit in a cramped space, especially if your heart’s set on a higher-end model that won’t fold and isn’t exactly compact. Still, if you can maneuver your belongings and make room for a hybrid treadmill-elliptical cardio trainer that you know you’ll use, you can keep up with your workouts even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

4. Free weights

Another way to turn a section of your home into a place to workout is to grab some free weights and kettlebells. You don’t need to get a whole rack of free weights, either. Just a few dumbbells can be enough to get started. Just make sure you learn how to properly use them to reduce the risk of muscle strain and overexertion.

In terms of kettlebells, you may want to get a little education on some top-notch kettlebell workouts. Plenty of hardcore fitness advocates swear by the power of kettlebells and encourage everyone to look into them. Kettlebells aren’t generally expensive and they don’t take up a ton of room, so the only thing you have to lose is a few inches! And everyone knows that when you feel more confident in your appearance, you tend to feel more confident and self-assured when dealing with unexpected issues.

5. Running shoes

Maybe you’ve discovered the thrill of running outdoors for the first time. Perhaps you used to run and got away from it thanks to life’s craziness. Whatever your reason for getting out and hitting the sidewalk, road, or trail, you need to protect your feet and joints. You can’t afford to be sidelined or benched, which could intensify feelings of isolation and add to your depression.

Although some people feel that any sneakers will suffice for a run, experts disagree. Running shoes are specifically designed to lessen running’s natural impact on your joints. Additionally, many are designed to provide special assistance with extra cushioning, motion control, or stability. Since it can be tough to figure out which running shoe is the best choice for you, go to a local running store to get fitted. You’ll spend a little more money than you would just order shoes online during a flash sale, but you’ll be on the right track—maybe literally.

6. Fitness apps

When you’re stuck indoors, you may have trouble motivating yourself to resist screen time. But with the top workout apps, you don’t have to. Apps allow you to use your device for a positive purpose and give you something fun to try.

As you look through the workout app possibilities, ask yourself an honest question: Which type of exercise will you be most likely to do on a regular basis? Dancing? Pilates? Jumping rope? There’s an app for just about any type of fitness program you can imagine. That makes it simple and convenient to find a new exercise you’ll love.

Practicing a little self-care makes sense for everyone these days. Make working out a part of your normal routine by taking advantage of popular workout tools. Your mind and body will thank you!

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Sam Kramer, MS, RD, CSSGB, LDN, CISSN

Sam Kramer is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, Six Sigma Green Belt Certified, and Certified Sports Nutritionis

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