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Is the Joy Workout a Real Thing? What You Can Expect

joy workout
Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Austin Schmid

The joy workout is a short but sweet set of movements focused on bringing a smile to your face and boosting your mood. Does it work? Let’s find out.

There has been no shortage of research to show that exercising can boost your mood. Getting your body moving helps get oxygen to the brain and releases endorphins which can help treat mental illnesses. Certain movements can conjure up different emotions, which is where the joy workout comes in. 

Created by Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist/group fitness class instructor, this workout was designed specifically to make participants happy. In just 8½ minutes, the joy workout aims to boost your mood. To call it a workout might be a bit of a stretch. For anyone who regularly incorporates fitness into their daily routine, this will feel more like a warm-up. The joy workout can easily be used as a pre-morning workout wake-up tool or as way to get your body moving and boost your mood between virtual meetings. 

The Six Steps of the Joy Workout

Mimicking throwing confetti is one of the six movements of the joy workout.
Mimicking throwing confetti is one of the six movements of the joy workout.
(Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Clay Banks)

The joy workout can be done anywhere and with anyone. It can be used as a base to help you find your own joy movements. You can use whatever upbeat music you want and remember — this is all about finding your joy and making you smile. 

  1. Reach: This gesture of hope has you reaching towards the sky with slow and gentle arm movements that gradually incorporate your whole body. 
  2. Sway: A gentle shoulder sway turns into full body movement as you embrace the music and free your body. 
  3. Bounce: Bopping along to the music turns into a pretend jump rope session and then has you waving your hands in the air. 
  4. Shake: Now it’s time to shake your body and release all your inhibitions. 
  5. Jump for Joy: Be transported back to childhood and pump your hands in the air with enthusiasm as you progress into joyful jumping jacks.  
  6. Celebrate: Pretend you’re throwing confetti into the air as you slowly start to bump up the intensity. 

In order for the joy workout to truly work its magic, you need to let go of all your inhibitions and embrace the seemingly childlike movements. Dance like no one is watching and reap the benefits. 

So Does the Joy Workout Actually Make You Happy?

Move your body in a way that feels good to you to make the most of the joy workout.
Move your body in a way that feels good to you to make the most of the joy workout.
(Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Levi Guzman )

Aerobic activity, such as cycling, running, or swimming, is known to have a positive influence on the brain, even in short bursts such as the joy workout. However certain moves help show emotion, and research has shown that they can also elicit that same emotion. 

Dance movement therapy (DMT) has been used to help express and also change emotion. This is why sometimes having a dance party in your home can help you shake off negative energy and replace it with a positive feeling. The joy workout utilizes happy movements and upbeat music to help boost your mood. 

In short, the joy workout can help boost your mood, but if you are experiencing depression or constant low mood, you may want to ask your doctor what other steps you can take.

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