The ultimate mood booster that can even treat depression
Perhaps you have a rough idea about how exercise affects your mood, health, weight, energy levels, and overall wellbeing. But do you know about its impact on the brain?
You might after reading this, says Lana Zailaa, Therapeutic Dietitian & Integrative Lifestyle Mentor, and founder of @GoutDeVie.
Most people work out primarily to get in shape. Very few do so with the intent to improve their brain functioning or mood.
Many studies are out right now to show that people who exercise regularly benefit from a positive boost in mood, lower rates of depression, and much more.
Even now and officially, the American Psychiatric Association recommends exercise as a treatment option for depression. It’s effective alone or when combined with standard treatments.
The link between exercise and mental health
To simplify it, the levels of chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, stress hormones, and endorphins, change when you exercise.
Add to that; endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body similar to that of morphine minus the addictive factor.
These endorphins can even interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.
Other Mental Benefits of Physical Activity
Regular exercise has also been proven to:
- Reduce stress
- Ward off feelings of depression
- Boost self-esteem
- Decrease social anxiety
- Improve processing of emotions
- Prevents neurological conditions
- Euphoria (short-term)
- Increases focus and attention
- Hinders the aging process
- Improves memory
- Improves blood circulation
- Decreases ‘brain fog.’
In addition, physical activity helps you get better sleep. And good sleep helps you manage your mood.
Many of these benefits are derived from the ability to reduce insulin resistance, inflammation, and burnout.
For even more significant benefits, try exercising outdoors.
Some recent studies have found people report a higher level of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure, and self-esteem and a lower level of tension, depression, and fatigue after they have walked outside.
Daily recommendations to maximize benefits
You might be wondering how much you need to do to give your mental health a boost. Running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression, according to a study published online on January 23 by JAMA Psychiatry.
So, try to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes, four to five times a week. For busy people, keep in mind any movement is better than none and, in such cases, starting gradually is advised.
Types of physical activity that help boost your happy hormones
There are no types of exercises that are better for uplifting the mood. It appears that whatever motivates you to move, your brain and body will thank you.
Research confirms that yoga helps people with certain neurological issues. Swimming has significantly reduced the symptoms of anxiety and depression for 1.4 million adults in Britain, according to research released lately. And other literature supports different types of activities.
It is all about what you like!
And that’s why before you start your exercise program, you should plan an easy routine to follow and maintain. Focus on what physical activities you enjoy. Ask yourself if you prefer group or individual activities?
If you cannot regularly participate in exercise or athletics, you can add some other tools to help boost your moods such as meditation and massage.
Studies of meditation and massage therapy have demonstrated that these techniques can stimulate endorphin secretion, increase relaxation, and boost mood as well.
The important thing is to try natural ways to support and take care of your mental health.
Exercise is one of them!