How can exercise improve your mood?
What are people really talking about when they suggest exercise as a method to improve your mood?
Inactivity allows you plenty of time to ponder things and activate irrational beliefs that will only exacerbate an already low mood. Irrational beliefs can often be reinforced through apathy. The less you do the less motivated you become; this can often develop into a trigger for an already bad mood to worsen. Once this cycle begins the more helpless and hopeless an individual can start to feel.
Exercise is an immediate way to engage in an activity, group or individual. It is a forced distraction and a catalyst to break spiralling and negative thought patterns.
Emotions come from chemical and electrical changes that happen within the brain, nerves and body. A nerve impulse triggers the release of chemical molecules called neurotransmitters from one end of a neutron to the synaptic fluid. Almost like a relay race, passing the information from one point another. This molecular movement acts as a channel for different emotions.
It is interesting to note that neurotransmitters responsible for mood and emotion are the same as those activated by aerobic exercise. Specifically dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. The production and transport of these drops drastically in mood disorders, so it becomes clear why medical professionals are often convinced that exercise could well improve your mood.
Other factors relevant for an improved mood include:
- Increased circulation of blood flow which increases the supply of oxygen throughout the body
- Lowered stress levels
- Improved sleep and appetite
- Better concentration
Regular exercise not only improves your mood but also has the ability to boost self-esteem. It can help you maintain a regular weight, stimulate the production of human growth hormone, build muscle and increase overall energy levels.
Many studies reflect that for people who experience high stress levels, low moods or mild depression, the biggest obstacle to overcome is motivation. This highlights the often overlooked role of personal trainers and group exercise instructors. So be sure to thank your trainer after every session! Having a regular, fixed appointment will increase the likelihood of regular exercise.
Although aerobic exercise is the preferred choice, exercises such as yoga, Pilates and tai chi should not be dismissed. These types of exercise can assist with mental relaxation and stress management. They are also great exercises that sedentary people may initially find less intimidating and not as demanding as aerobic training.
Personally if I don’t exercise for a few days, I turn into a head case! Irritability, despondency and frustration all begin to catch up with me. I like to include running, strength training, sparring and yoga. Each type of exercise has an added individual benefit. Running gets me outdoors and clears my head, strength training keeps me toned and maintains my self esteem, sparring releases my anger issues or frustrations and yoga inspires me to be kind to myself.
Trust me; you will regret NOT doing exercise far more than getting on with it!
Always consult with a medical professional before starting an exercise regime.
Nice post Theresa! I know this to be true by personal experience. During the period of unemployment (long story) it was really easy to let things slide. The best thing to do to reverse this infinite loop of despair = inactivity = depression = despair = inactivity etc. is to decide to do something – create a schedule of to dos, get learning a new thing, anything … The pattern reverses. Energy begets energy. It’s a universal law.