There are more and more studies being done that show that exercise can lift your mood, reduce depression and lessen anxiety. There are even some studies that show that exercise might be linked to a heightened creativity and imagination in individuals. Listen to what the United States Surgeon General says about exercise:
“reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and fosters improvements in mood and feelings of well-being.”
People who exercise regularly know this already, though. Many people who have participated in studies have stated that their feelings of well-being and contentment were improved after physical activity, which led to a greater ability to relax. Those who went into studies with the worst mood reported the greatest improvement, as well.
For those of you that do not find the time to exercise on a regular basis, you are missing out on one of the less expensive (and easy) ways to improve your emotional well-being. Exercise can increase your ability to deal with stress and anxiety, which are two factors in “a bad mood”. Although exercise cannot be called a “cure” for any anxiety or emotional disorders, it can be one of the most important factors in your recovery program.
What about exercising improves my mood?
Researchers have not determined exactly what about exercise improves your emotions and sense of well-being. The theories vary, but many feel it has something to do with various hormones which are released during exercise.
Participating in intense exercise has been shown to stimulate the brain, which causes the release of hormones called endorphins. Endorphins are generally known as a hormone that suppresses the feeling of pain and heightens an individual’s sense of well-being. In studies it has been shown that the endorphins begin being produced about 15 to 20 minutes after exercise has been initiated. After about 45 minutes, the endorphin production hits its peak.
Another hormone that is affected by exercise is serotonin. The release of serotonin occurs with repetitious activity, like you would find when you are walking, jogging, running, and riding a bike. This can be extremely beneficial, as there is a link between low levels of serotonin and various negative disorders, like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and aggressive behavior.
Another reason exercise is such a powerful weapon against bad moods is that participation in physical activity gives individuals a sense of achievement. It also puts the person “in control” of their bodies, which can break the negative thoughts that may be echoing in their minds. Similar to the sense of achievement is the increased self-esteem individuals who exercise enjoy. When someone exercises, their body builds up strength, endurance, and often looks better. That may raise the person’s self-esteem dramatically, which will lead to better emotional health.
Exercise is found in the here and now, too, which can help a person avoid depression and bad moods. Many times, preoccupation with the past or the future will lead to depression and bad feelings. Since your focus is right there when exercising, you don’t have the chance to allow those negative thoughts to overwhelm and control you.
When you begin exercising to improve your emotions, the best thing to remember is to start out slowly. Having an anxiety attack or over doing it can lead to frustration and discontinuation of your exercise program. Since this is definitely not what you want, consider these simple exercises to begin:
Low Impact Aerobics
Once you have found a ‘groove’ and are exercising on a regular schedule, you will surely see the benefits of better moods.