Exercise is known to be a wonderful stress beater and improves our overall health. What we often forget is the impact it has on our mental health. It is one of the best remedies whenever we are mentally stressed or simply want to strengthen our mental stamina. You can kick off a cardio workout routine at home easily for both your physical fitness and mental health
According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, there is a 26% lower chance of developing depression when there is physical activity involved. As simple as replacing 15 minutes of sitting with walking can have an impact on your mood.
The study also indicates that it doesn’t matter whether you run a marathon, do a CrossFit Sydney, or just take a walk in a park; movements can keep depression at bay.
There are many studies done to show how the mind and body connect and affect each other. Those who have regular exercises at least three times a day decreases the risk of getting Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Capacity to feel joy
Exercise enhances your capacity to feel joy. As you exercise regularly, your brain is being remodeled, and low-dose dopamine is constantly being released and available in the brain’s receptors. You’ll experience more enjoyment in daily pleasures.
Another study showed how exercise releases endocannabinoids, a “don’t worry, be happy” brain chemical. These molecules give you a sense of contentment and reduce the feeling of anxiety. It also supports the release of dopamine, thus boost the sense of optimism.
Makes you brave
Interestingly, exercise can help you develop courage and bravery. As you do physical activities, the reward system is activated, strengthen the neural pathways in the brain that’s responsible for calming anxiety.
Lactate, a by-product of exercise that causes muscle soreness is actually responsible for improving mental health. When lactate is released, it travels in the bloodstream and creates changes in neurochemistry that can protect your brain from depression and anxiety.
Physical activities create changes in the nervous system. Our default system, which is flight or fight, becomes more balanced with the help of neurochemistry.
However, physical activities such as trekking, cross-fitting, jogging, and other intense movement teach us to be brave. As we overcome physical challenges, we slowly gain confidence and be brave which improves our personal development.
Exercise and Hormones
There are still further studies needed to understand how these work together completely, but several factors are involved in improving mood through exercises. Four main chemicals involved in mood regulation and exercise are endorphins,oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin.
Exercise releases serotonin, a hormone that is responsible for regulating mood and feeling. Depression is often linked to a low level of serotonin. Serotonin helps in regulating anxiety and depression. It also lifts your mood, making you feel happy.
Serotonin is an essential part of mood and emotions. The release of serotonin helps in making us feel calm, focused, and emotionally stable. Factors that help in increasing the release of serotonin are exercises and exposure to sunlight.
Moreover, serotonin also influences our sleep. The lack of sleep influences how we feel and makes us unable to focus.
Aside from serotonin, a neurochemical called endorphins are released after a good workout. It gives you the “high” from exercising. It is also a natural pain reliever for the body.
Endorphins are released from the pituitary gland and the central nervous system. It works to boost pleasure and minimize pain, thus giving you a sense of wellness. Aside from exercising, endorphins are present when we are eating and having sex.
Endorphin allows us to move forward and survive despite experiencing pain. The goal of endorphins is to keep us alive. Our basic motivation is to stay away from pain and seek pleasure, and this is the mechanism of survival.
Exercises increase the release of oxytocin in the body, thus contributing to mood enhancement for many. As simple as running on a treadmill can help with the increase.
Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for bonding. Often called as “love hormone,” an important part of childbirth. Aside from childbirth, oxytocin influences how we behave and feel, such as the feeling of anxiety, trust, and addiction.
Another “feel good” hormone, dopamine, is a neurotransmitter responsible for the reward system in the brain. It is being released when we are anticipating a reward. It is responsible for your motivation, reward, and reinforcement.
Dopamine contributes to the feeling of happiness and can give you a short sense of euphoria. Aside from mood, dopamine is also responsible for our sleep, memory, and motor control.
The lack of dopamine contributes to Parkinson’s disease and depression. Overproduction of dopamine causes mania, schizophrenia, and hallucinations. A good balance of dopamine is essential for mental well-being.
In conclusion, movement is an essential part of living healthy. Our body needs to move in order to feel balanced and happy. Without physical activities, our minds and body can deteriorate significantly.