It’s true – we don’t always look forward to our workout before we start it. It might be a tube, bus or car journey to get there. Maybe it’s raining, or you’ve just had a busy week, and can’t be bothered.
So why is it that when we finish our workout, we always feel happy? Lighter? Accomplished? Believe it or not, it’s not just our body that’s hard at work during our hardcore sweatfests – our brain’s at it too.
When we exercise, our brain produces endorphins – a chemical that makes us feel great! As well as endorphins, your body will produce serotonin, norepinephrine, BDNF and dopamine, all of which have positive benefits for your mind. These five chemicals will boost your mood, and will even help to relieve both anxiety and depression.
It’s not just your body that feels good after a workout – your mental health is also positively affected by the chemicals released during your session.
Cardio workouts are fantastic for improving mental health and happiness. Studies have shown that 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, 3 to 5 times per week will give you significant mental health benefits.
In fact, it’s been proven* that cardio exercise reduces both anxiety and depression by doing the following:
- Increasing blood flow to the brain
- Influencing specific areas of the brain, which modulates our reaction to stress
- Positively affecting parts of the brain that impact mood and motivation, such as the limbic system, the amygdala, and the hippocampus
Sure, it might be hard to convince yourself to pull your gym clothes on, start a workout, or book a class, but when the end result is a feeling of true happiness, why would we ever say no!?
As always, stay fit and healthy.
* Source – Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 8(2), 106.
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