The Best Exercises for When You're Feeling Angry

Dancing Boxing Jumping rope Yoga Tai Chi Walking

Verywell / Theresa Chiechi


Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that everyone experiences at some time. Underlying emotions, such as sadness, fear, or guilt, may also be expressed as anger. During times of stress, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, we may experience anger more often than is typical.

Anger becomes problematic when it becomes unmanageable. Some people exercise to manage their emotions and frustrations.

Researchers have found that aerobic exercise, in particular, can help reduce anxiety, depression, and hostility. Some research even suggests that a short bout of exercise may help to prevent an angry mood.

Exercise is a great solution in theory, but some people may have difficulty giving their energy to a workout when anger is consuming them. If you find yourself sidetracked by an angry mood, frustration, or outrage, consider one of these workouts to help manage the emotion.

The Effects of Anger on the Body

Researchers define anger as an emotional state that consists of feelings that vary in intensity from mild irritation or annoyance to intense fury. There are two types of anger:

  • Constructive Anger: Anger that can help you to solve problems and can have a protective component.
  • Destructive Anger: Anger used to justify somebody's feelings or to intensify somebody's state of anger.

Even though anger can be a healthy emotion, it can take a toll on the body. In fact, those who practice Buddhism refer to anger as one of the three poisons of the mind (along with greed and foolishness).

For instance, through its impact on the sympathetic nervous system, anger has been shown to have a positive association with atherosclerosis or coronary heart disease. And negative emotions, including anger, have also been included as a causal factor for bulimic behavior. Anger has been associated with developing type 2 diabetes and with an increased risk of road accidents.

On the other hand, exercise has been associated with a decreased risk of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Exercise has also been shown to increase one's emotional resilience to acute stress. So when you experience anger, physical exercise may be a positive way to relieve some tension.

Types of Workouts to Manage Anger

There are different ways to approach movement when you are cross or annoyed.

  • Some people might prefer to release their anger with explosive movements, such as boxing, circuit training, or dancing.
  • Others might prefer to calm their breathing and reduce their heart rate with mind-body exercises, such as yoga, Tai Chi, or meditation.
  • Some may even prefer a combination of both, such as hiking in nature.

It may also be the case that what works on one occasion is less effective during another event. So try to be open-minded and try different exercises to calm your mood.

Keep in mind that the goal with exercise isn't necessarily to eliminate anger. Anger is natural and can be healthy. Exercise simply gives you an outlet for healthy expression and management.

Sweat It Out

Since aerobic activity has specifically been called out by researchers as a way to reduce anger expression in both children and adults, you might want to get your sweat on to calm your nerves. Activities like individual rowing and treadmill running have been associated with lowered anger, dejection, and anxiety.

You might want to try one of these workouts the next time you need to release frustration:

You might also want to try to redirect your focus. The following types of workouts, in particular, help you to concentrate on various movement challenges so that your focus may be directed away from the source of your anger, at least temporarily.

Boxing

Front Kick Lunge

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Boxing workouts force you to focus on specific punch and jab combinations. A boxing workout engages the whole body, burns calories, and builds strength, especially in the upper body. There are many boxing studios and gyms (such as Rumble or Mayweather Boxing + Fitness), and many of them also provide apps that allow you to workout at home if you can't get to one of their locations.

If you want to box at home using equipment that boxers use, consider Fightcamp. This complete boxing system includes a free-standing bag that you can hit or kick during trainer-led workouts provided on an app.

Another option is Liteboxer, a tall punch pad that is connected to a platform on which you stand. The punch pad has six targets that light up, indicating where to hit. Liteboxer syncs lights with music tempo and guides you through trainer-led workouts provided on the app. The immersive experience lets you release stress but forces you to focus on complex combinations while having fun and burning calories.

Of course, you don't need to spend a lot of money to box at home. You can purchase gloves and other boxing gear then use a boxing app on your smartphone. Apps like Precision Boxing Coach or PunchLab allow you to box wherever and whenever you have your smartphone.

Jumping Rope

Another high-intensity workout that requires focus and concentration is jumping rope. The beauty of this exercise is that you'll increase your heart rate quickly and burn calories fast. It is also a workout that requires very little equipment. You can buy an inexpensive rope for less than $15 or get a complete system (like CrossRope) that includes weighted ropes and app-based workouts.

A jump rope workout can include moves like the double foot jump, running step, high step, or double unders that force you to take your mind off the anger to coordinate your feet.

A 150-pound person is likely to burn about 143 calories with just ten minutes of fast jumping.

Circuit Training

Speed Skate Weights

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The great thing about a circuit workout is that it keeps you moving. You move from station to station and work different body parts for short segments of time, so there's little time to think about problems or issues that may be causing you to be angry.

To do a circuit at home, you may need some basic equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands. Or you might try a total bodyweight circuit and just use your own body to build strength and get your sweat on.

Ohm It Out

Mind-body practices, like Tai Chi Chuan and yoga, have been shown to help lower blood pressure. In fact, one study that compared yoga to walking found that yoga was more effective at improving mood and decreasing anxiety than hitting the pavement. So if you are looking at a way to calm yourself when feeling angry, you might want to consider one of these practices.

Different Types of Yoga

Warrior Two

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

There are many different styles of yoga that you might consider trying when you feel you need some relief from anger.

  • Hatha yoga tends to be slower and more gentle.
  • Power yoga and vinyasa yoga, on the other hand, move more quickly and offer a more intense workout.
  • Bikram yoga is practiced in a heated room which can challenge you to focus on specific postures for the duration of the 90-minute class.

There is even a type of yoga designed for those who want to express their anger. It's called Rage Yoga, and you can either practice at a studio in states such as Texas, Florida, or Ohio, or you can take a class online. Classes are taught by instructors who are specifically trained in this practice and may include holding poses while swearing. In her YouTube video, founder Lindsay Istace says that she created the practice to become an "empowered badass" and help others seeking the same goal through movement.

Regardless of the practice you choose, if you're doing yoga at home, you simply need a yoga mat and some space. Take an online class, use a yoga app, or try one of these yoga sequences:

Tai Chi

Tai chi is actually a martial art that originated in China, but it is not the type where you are aggressive. Instead, it is a series of self-meditation and flowing movements. The slow pace of the movement may help calm your temper and bring your heart rate down if you find that you are charged up and angry.

There are different types of tai chi, but if you are just getting started, there are online tai chi classes and smartphone apps that can help. The Tai Chi Foundation also provides several instructional videos and can help you find a class in your area.

Meditation 

While meditation is not necessarily a workout, the practice of meditation is certainly an exercise in self-healing that can help you learn to focus attention and awareness for mental clarity. Mindful meditation has been shown to reduce stress and aggression in adolescents, adults, and those managing chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia.

Meditation doesn't require that you take a class, but you may want to look online, read a book, or use an app to help you get started. For example, Headspace offers guidance online and on their smartphone app. Calm is also a popular app that can guide your practice. There are also free apps like Smiling Mind and MyLife to get you started.

Walk It Out

Walking offers a wide range of health benefits, including better cardiovascular health and a reduced risk of some chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes. Walking may also be a great way to release anger.

Some studies have shown that just a single bout of walking (just 10 minutes) may reduce hostility and anger in young adults, although not to a statistically significant degree. Another study showed that reaching 10,000 steps per day resulted in lower levels of reported anger, along with reduced anxiety, depression, fatigue, confusion, and total mood distress in 35 overweight participants who took part in a 12-week walking program.

Walking Workouts

About Jogging

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Grab a friend and go for a walk the next time that you feel frustrated or spent. Or take a walk and enjoy the alone time. Be sure that you are properly outfitted with appropriate shoes and walking apparel to avoid blisters or weather-related snafus.

You may also want to try one of these outdoor or treadmill walking workouts:

Hiking

Getting outside and tackling rougher terrain through forests, deserts, or mountainous ridges is a great way to release stress and anger. Studies have shown that exposure to nature can have a real effect on your body.

Compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments is associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy.

Groove It Out

Dance has been used for thousands of years to celebrate life, honor traditions, demonstrate joy, and sometimes express anger. In fact, the practice of dance movement therapy—while not widely studied—has been used in cancer patients successfully to address feelings of isolation, depression, anger, and fear.

There are also other ways to let your body move and groove. Whether you have just a few minutes or up to an hour, you can move your body with breath, affirmations, or rhythm to release some anger.

Meditative Movements

Meditative Movements is a program lasting just two to four minutes where you pair simple everyday movements (like walking) with empowering affirmations like "I can." This type of exercise isn't likely to get you sweaty, so it is easier completed if you find yourself needing to manage anger at work or in a setting where you only have a few moments.

The simple program was studied in 2017 by researchers at the University of Minnesota. In the small study, 49 participants with a chronic health condition received five training sessions in Meditative Movements over a 7-week trial. At the end of the study and during a later follow-up, participants reported improvements in symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and emotional well-being. When asked what was most beneficial about the program, a common response was "less negative attitude."

Dance It Out (DIO)

Dance It Out, sometimes just called DIO, is a class created by Billy Blanks Jr. that includes over 20 styles of dance in a non-judgmental, supportive environment. Students of all fitness levels, ages, shapes, and sizes release stress and get fit with creative and fun movement. There are also adaptive classes for dancers with disabilities or in wheelchairs.

Blanks hosts a Dance It Out show on Lifetime that includes interviews with inspirational people who have overcome challenges, but you can also find classes by certified DIO instructors in a few studios around the U.S. or in Japan. For those who can't take a class in a studio, you can also sign up to take classes online.

A Word From Verywell

Anger is a normal, natural emotion. Anger can even play a positive role in inspiring healthy change in your life. But there may also be times when anger and its effects can become problematic and even get out of control. Sometimes a workout is not enough to manage the emotion.

Anger management is a crucial issue that may need to be addressed through therapy. While exercise is one tool that many people can use to reduce their anger, some people may have trouble controlling their feelings, and this can potentially have dangerous consequences. So, it is best to be proactive before anger becomes an issue. Reach out to a mental health professional or get a referral from your healthcare provider if you feel that you are at a point where you'd like help getting anger in control.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. McIntyre KM, Puterman E, Scodes JM, Choo TH, Choi CJ, Pavlicova M, Sloan RP. The effects of aerobic training on subclinical negative affect: A randomized controlled trial. Health Psychol. 2020 Apr;39(4):255-264. doi: 10.1037/hea0000836

  2. Thom NJ, O'Connor PJ, Clementz BA, Dishman RK. Acute exercise prevents angry mood induction but does not change angry emotions. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Jul;51(7):1451-1459. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001922

  3. Staicu ML, Cuţov M. Anger and health risk behaviorsJ Med Life. 2010;3(4):372-375.

  4. Childs E, de Wit H. Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adultsFront Physiol. 2014;5:161. Published 2014 May 1. doi:10.3389/fphys.2014.00161

  5. Tkacz J, Young-Hyman D, Boyle CA, Davis CL. Aerobic exercise program reduces anger expression among overweight children. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2008;20(4):390-401. doi:10.1123/pes.20.4.390

  6. Pels F, Kleinert J. Does exercise reduce aggressive feelings? An experiment examining the influence of movement type and social task conditions on testiness and anger reduction. Percept Mot Skills. 2016 Jun;122(3):971-87. doi: 10.1177/0031512516647802

  7. Yeh H-P, Stone JA, Churchill SM, Brymer E, Davids K. Physical and emotional benefits of different exercise environments designed for treadmill runningInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2017; 14(7):752. doi:10.3390/ijerph14070752

  8. Waehner, Paige. How to Calculate the Calories You Burn During Exercise. VerywellFit.com Updated April 10, 2020

  9. Liu D, Yi L, Sheng M, Wang G, Zou Y. The efficacy of tai chi and qigong exercises on blood pressure and blood levels of nitric oxide and endothelin-1 in patients with essential hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trialsEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020;2020:3267971. Published 2020 Jul 30. doi:10.1155/2020/3267971

  10. Streeter CC, Whitfield TH, Owen L, et al. Effects of yoga versus walking on mood, anxiety, and brain GABA levels: a randomized controlled MRS studyJ Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(11):1145-1152. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0007

  11. Sharma MK, Sharma MP, Marimuthu P. Mindfulness-based program for management of aggression among youth: A follow-up studyIndian J Psychol Med. 2016;38(3):213-216. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.183087

  12. Sharma H. Meditation: Process and effectsAyu. 2015;36(3):233-237. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.182756

  13. Amutio A, Franco C, Pérez-Fuentes Mde C, Gázquez JJ, Mercader I. Mindfulness training for reducing anger, anxiety, and depression in fibromyalgia patientsFront Psychol. 2015;5:1572. Published 2015 Jan 12. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01572

  14. Omura JD, Ussery EN, Loustalot F, Fulton JE, Carlson SA. Walking as an opportunity for cardiovascular disease prevention. Prev Chronic Dis. 2019;16:E66. Published 2019 May 30. doi:10.5888/pcd16.180690

  15. Edwards MK, Loprinzi PD. Experimental effects of brief, single bouts of walking and meditation on mood profile in young adultsHealth Promot Perspect. 2018;8(3):171-178. Published 2018 Jul 7. doi:10.15171/hpp.2018.23

  16. Yuenyongchaiwat K. Effects of 10,000 steps a day on physical and mental health in overweight participants in a community setting: a preliminary studyBraz J Phys Ther. 2016;20(4):367-373. doi:10.1590/bjpt-rbf.2014.0160

  17. Thompson Coon J, Boddy K, Stein K, Whear R, Barton J, Depledge MH. Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Mar 1;45(5):1761-72. doi:10.1021/es102947t

  18. Bradt J, Shim M, Goodill SW. Dance/movement therapy for improving psychological and physical outcomes in cancer patients. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jan 7;1(1):CD007103. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007103

  19. Emmons T, Felts J, Peterson E, Mathiowetz VG. Effects of meditative movements on the symptoms of persons with chronic health conditionsAnnals of International Occupational Therapy. 2019;2(2):57-67. doi:10.3928/24761222-20190218-01