We have all known for years that exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. It is not only a key part of weight control, it can reduce the risk of certain diseases (like type 2 diabetes) while building and strengthening bone and muscle. In short, exercise is good for your body and your physical health.
But what about your mental health? Have you ever noticed how great you feel after you've smashed a workout? That mood-enhancing boost is not just in your head!
Here are 10 ways that exercise can improve your mood:
1. Exercise helps you think clearly and make better decisions
Exercise stimulates the part of the brain known as the ventral prefrontal cortex. This section of the brain is key in decision making and emotional processing.
2. Exercise can help reduce negative moods
The ventral prefrontal cortex isn't just for making decisions. It processes negative emotions, like fear, allowing us to determine if a situation is risky or not. Exercising on a frequent basis helps you better process this negativity, allowing you to stay focused on the positive.
3. Exercise helps you resist stress
People who exercise are better at dealing with stressors in their environment. In fact, frequent exercise actually alters a part of the brain known as dorsal raphe nucleus which is responsible for mood regulation. This part of the brain produces the neurotransmitter serotonin which helps keep your moods under control but it also produces the neurotransmitter called Substance P which alerts you to stress in your environment.
4. Exercise reduces tension and anxiety
Exercise increases your production of serotonin which, in turn, makes you feel good by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones.
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5. Exercise improves memory
Regular exercise increases activity in the part of your brain known as the hippocampus. It is this part of the brain that helps you form new memories and retrieve old ones.
6. Exercise improves cognitive performance
Recent research has suggested that even short bursts of intense exercise over the course of the workday can improve performance and productivity.
7. Exercise helps reduce pain
We've heard about "runner's high," that pain reducing euphoria that comes with lengthy exercise sessions, but it turns out that you don't have to be pounding the pavement for hours to experience this phenomenon. Research suggests that even low-impact exercises, like water aerobics, can reduce pain in the body.
8. Exercise increases body satisfaction
Exercisers report increased body satisfaction immediately following a workout. People who work out on a frequent basis, are less dissatisfied with their bodies than those who work out infrequently.
9. People who exercise report better romantic relationships
Researchers are a little hazy on this one. Your improved relationship could be due to the fact that you feel better about yourself. Or it could be that your sex life has improved. Maybe finding yourself in a better mood helps you navigate relationship rough patches. No matter the reason, this is definitely a mark in the win column!
10. Exercise predicts happiness
Study after study, after study, has shown that people who exercise are happier in general. After reading through this list, that probably isn't much of a surprise. If all these mental health benefits are coming together with all of the previously established physical health benefits, it is easy to see how you could find yourself in a happier space.
There you have it! Exercise is not only good for your body, it is good for your mind. Why not start a regular workout today? Check out over 66 hours of workouts, available on demand, through Sweatflix℠
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Have you noticed a significant increase in your positive energy since taking on a regular exercise routine? Share your story with us!
Source: Fitness Magazine