Working Out Angry Isn't Always A Bad Thing - Here's How To Use The Anger To Your Advantage

Anger, while natural to experience, can trigger the body's acute stress response, bringing with it a host of potential health problems (via Better Health Channel). When anger spirals out of control, it releases a flood of stress chemicals and metabolic changes that can compromise various systems within the body. High blood pressure, skin disorders, headaches, abdominal pain, and insomnia, are some common health problems associated with chronic feelings of anger.

Although we typically view anger as a negative emotion, it can be a real boon for your physical and emotional well-being if used the right way. As the American Psychological Association points out, feeling angry can be beneficial as it gives you an outlet to unload bitter feelings and may even inspire you to look for answers to your problems. When it comes to working out, the forceful movements of a sweaty physical training session pose the perfect outlet to utilize your anger without injurious consequences. Here's why hitting the gym in a rage can help you kill two birds with one stone.

Benefits of working out angry

Rage makes you feel stronger and more motivated to channel your strength into your movements, more so than you usually would. When you're enraged, the adrenal glands release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol throughout the body. "Because of the increase in adrenaline and cortisol running through your body, you might feel like you're able to lift heavier than you normally would or run farther than you normally would," certified personal trainer Jamie Carbaugh told SELF.

The link between emotional states and athletic performances works both ways. If anger can make your workouts more powerful, workouts can also make you feel less enraged. A 2019 review published in Acta Scientific Medical Sciences explains that when you channel your energy into a workout, feel-good chemicals like endorphins are released into the body, leaving you feeling more relaxed. This process helps distract you from negative thoughts, boost your confidence, and empower you to navigate your frustration with more composure. Not only can physical activity be used as an intervention for anger issues, but it can also be used as a form of prevention. Moderate exercise sessions on a daily basis — even in short spurts — enable you to take your mind off the problems at hand and cope with negative thoughts in a positive way.

The go-to workouts when you're angry

When you're consumed with anger, high-intensity workouts can help you sweat it out and feel better. But because you are probably more focused on your rage instead of safety, it's a good idea to stick with the workouts you're used to. As Stephanie Roth-Goldberg, LCSW, a psychotherapist specializing in sports psychology explained to SELF, "There is a greater risk of injury when you are doing an exercise for the purpose of getting out an emotion and not paying as much attention to that exercise as it warrants." So while throwing heavy weights around in the gym or hitting a punching bag might help release some of your anger, it may also result in injury if you're not mindful of your form. 

While almost any physical activity can help release pent-up anger, for those who are artistically inclined, dancing is a great outlet for unleashing both strong emotions and individuality. In a 2004 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 69 college students were assigned to either an African dance class, a hatha yoga class, or a biology lecture. After three, 90-minute sessions, the study found that only the students who participated in the yoga and dance classes reported experiencing fewer negative feelings. Additionally, participants in the dance class also reported feeling more positive emotions while those in the yoga class didn't. Regardless of what type of physical activity you choose, moving your body can go a long way in releasing pent-up anger.