If you’ve ever felt down or have suffered with depression, you know how hard it can be to find the energy to do the simplest of things. The last thing you feel like doing is exercising. I’ve definitely been there, but I have to say that once you make yourself head to the gym or out for a run, you’ll change your views.
Because exercise can make a big difference in your overall mood, as well as in your overall health. The physiological benefits you get from exercise (weight loss, more muscle, etc.) can also help improve your mood. It’s all connected, and it’s all good for your health.
Stress & Your Mind
You all know how stress can make you feel. It makes you irritable and moody, can keep you from sleeping well, and may have a number of physical effects as well.
What happens when your brain is under stress?
You may not realize it, but stress can have a pretty big effect on your brain. The region of your brain known as the hypothalamus functions as the natural alarm system in your body. It’s what influences the production of adrenaline and cortisol, both of which are stress hormones.
Cortisol is directly linked to mood. Too much of it can have negative effects on cell production in the hippocampus region of your brain. It can impair thought processes and may also have negative effects on memory formation. Cortisol suppresses your immune and digestive systems, too.
Stress easily makes you feel overwhelmed, and there’s a simple way to help combat it—go to the gym and free your mind!
If you’re into fitness, you already know about the physical benefits it can have when done regularly. There’s probably something else you’ve noticed after every workout, too—that incredibly good feeling, sometimes known as a “runner’s high.”
According to GreenMedInfo.com, “as your heart begins to pound, your brain chemistry reacts almost immediately to get you feeling better both physically and mentally.” Feelings of happiness and clarity, along with that burst of pure energy are all characteristic of what exercise can do for you.
Exercise and Your Brain Chemistry
So, exercise releases “feel-good” chemicals in your brain. Okay. Do you know the details? Your brain produces and releases a number of neurotransmitters that all have an effect on your overall mood. The more you exercise, the more these chemicals are produced and released.
8 Brain Chemicals Boosted by Exercise
- Serotonin: This neurotransmitter is mainly responsible for feelings of happiness and hopefulness. Low levels of are linked to depression, and exercise promotes a healthy increase in your brain’s production of serotonin, helping to keep depression at bay.
- Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF): A member of the neurotrophin family, BDNF is what helps keep your brain protected against emotional disorders, but it also helps repair damage done by stress and depression.
- Endorphins: This is probably the most popular factors in those feelings of happiness an euphoria you feel after a great workout. Did you know they’re actually only a small part? Endorphins are tiny peptides that fight pain, and are activated with as little as 20 minutes of exercise!
- Norepinephrine: This neurotransmitter works hand-in-hand with dopamine to boost your overall mood. It also plays a key role in your ability to make good decisions.
- Dopamine: A mood-boosting chemical, dopamine helps control your brain’s reward center, which is the area responsible for feelings of euphoria. It’s also key to helping you relax.
- GABA: Functioning as a calming neurotransmitter, GABA supports an increased immunity to stress and helps boost your ability to handle day-to-day life in a healthier way.
- Endocannabinoids: These are all-natural chemical compounds that play key roles in the processing of memory, appetite, and in your overall mood.
- Antibodies: Regular exercise increases happiness, which boost your antibody production. Antibodies are important to your body’s ability to fight viruses, diseases, and bacterial infections.
Doing it Your Way
There’s really no need to questions what you should be doing. It’s simple—do something you love. Whether it’s running, rollerblading, biking, or just hitting the gym for a session on the weights, it all counts.
Exercise, no matter the method, will help improve your mood, as well as your overall health. If you could improve your brain power, mood, confidence, character, self-discipline, and so much more with as little as a half hour of exercise every day, why wouldn’t you?
Do you find that certain exercises make you feel better than others? Leave us a comment below and let us know how you’re doing!