Improve Anger Management with Exercise

By Charles H. Elliott, Laura L. Smith, W. Doyle Gentry

A plethora of scientific evidence supports the fact that regular physical exercise improves moods and can help you reduce your anger. If you choose to exercise regularly, you can expect to

  • Concentrate better

  • Sleep better

  • Show a greater interest in sex

  • Have more energy

  • Be less tense

  • Enjoy life more in general

  • Feel less alienated from those around you

  • Make decisions easier

  • Be more optimistic

  • Complain less about minor physical ailments

  • Be less self-absorbed

  • Think more clearly

  • Be less obsessive

  • Be more active

  • Be less irritable and angry

Even with all these benefits of exercise, people have many excuses for not exercising. Understanding the excuses you’re using helps you overcome them.

Make time for exercise

Today’s chaotic, fast-paced world makes finding time for lots of things difficult. Many people let that fact defeat them before they even start. But research has shown that less than ten minutes of high-intensity exercise five or more times per week conveys significant benefits. You read that right, ten minutes per day.

Before you undertake any exercise program, especially high-intensity, check with your doctor. And if you hurt during the session, stop. Pain (as opposed to normal soreness) is a signal that something is wrong.

If you have bad knees, joint problems, or other health concerns, you can modify your exercise program accordingly. If your health problems are complex, a physical therapist will no doubt have good ideas to help you bring exercise back into your life.

Find the motivation to exercise

If your issue with exercise isn’t that you don’t have the time but rather that you aren’t motivated to keep up with an exercise program, start by reviewing the benefits of exercise. Furthermore, many people find that “activity monitor” devices help keep them going. Most of these devices track your steps and heart rate; some even alert you when you’ve been sitting too long, which happens to be a real health hazard.

You can also recruit an exercise buddy to keep you going. It’s a lot harder to let a friend down than yourself. Both you and your friend should consider making a chart to record your progress week to week. Finally, signing up for a class, such as spin or Pilates, at your local gym may inspire you and keep you accountable.

If you make exercise a rule rather than a “possibility,” you’re more likely to keep at it. Get moving — you’ll feel better if you do.

Review the types of exercise

Some people are able to carve out the time and find the motivation to work out regularly, but they’re just not sure what to do. They wonder how intense and frequent their exercise routine needs to be. Or they think they must have the perfect routine. These are basically needless concerns. Consider the following:

  • It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you choose. We heard someone ask a friend of ours who owns and operates a gym, “What’s the best kind of exercise?” His response was, “The kind you’ll agree to do!”

  • It doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective. The key is that you incorporate it into your lifestyle so that it’s not just an add-on — doing it only when you have time or feel like it.

When it comes to using exercise to enhance mood, the best regimen is a combination of the following:

  • Aerobic exercise, such as walking or jogging, for endurance

  • Weight-lifting for strength

  • Stretching exercises for flexibility

It’s pretty hard to feel angry after a tough workout. Try it and see for ­yourself.