Not only does exercise help control weight, combat illness and boost energy, exercise can also help you feel happy. That’s right, and it’s not just because you are so glad that you burned more calories than you did the day before. Physical exercise actually stimulates the production of brain chemicals involved in the regulation of mood. Looking better and feeling better physically can also boost confidence and improve your self-esteem.
Psychological Benefits of Exercise
Your body releases chemicals called endorphins that interact with receptors in the brain to reduce your perception of pain. They also trigger a positive feeling in the body that many people have called “runner’s high” which is described as euphoric with an added energy and a more positive outlook on life. As your self-image improves, along with a shrinking waistline, you’ll also notice an increase strength and stamina along with a sense of confidence and pride. This sense of vitality can help you stay motivated and keep working out!
At the end of a stressful day the effects of exercise can extend far beyond physical short-term benefits. Researchers at Duke University explored the mood/exercise connection through a series of randomized controlled trials and concluded that active people are less depressed than inactive people. Additionally, exercise was found to be generally as effective as antidepressants for depression. Follow-up research indicates that exercise may be important not only for depression, but also for preventing relapse. (1) Get in a better mood by doing any kind of physical activity if you are feeling stressed, depressed or have anxiety. Need an idea for a workout that is low-impact and meditative, try a yoga workout!
Watch this short video for more information on how exercise helps to improve mood:
Many people skip their workouts at the times when it is most beneficial to them. Have you ever had a really long day and when you got home just wanted to sit on the couch? If your first thought isn’t to pick up your workout bag and head to the gym or head out for a run, you aren’t alone. But the physical effects are not the only reason to do a workout at the end of a day like that. Remember these mental, emotional and stress-related benefits of even a 15 minute walk, so you don’t plop yourself down in front of the television, or into a recliner. Failing to exercise when you feel bad is similar to eating potato chips when you want to lose weight, it just doesn’t make sense.