Battling the Blues? Boost Your Mood with Exercise
October 14th, 2016
If you’re battling stress, depression, anxiety, or even just the occasional blues, exercise is a great way to help boost your mood. Additionally, incorporating exercise into your lifestyle can help strengthen your cardiovascular health and improve self esteem. The idea that exercise can help boost your mood isn’t just an imaginary concept, either — in fact, recent studies as well as research dating back to 1891 show the link between mood enhancement and exercise. If you’re looking for a natural way to boost your mood, keep reading to learn how exercise can benefit your mind.
How Exercise Boosts Your Mood
When you engage in physical exercise, you effectively increase oxygen and blood flow to your brain. Scientifically, exercise activates neurochemicals called endorphins, which are produced in the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland. These activate opioid receptors in the brain, which in turn give you the natural “high” that people often experience after vigorous exercise, like running. All of this equates to you feeling better immediately after exercising. Furthermore, the physical effects of exercising can help boost your self-esteem. You may find that with regular exercise you will feel more confident about your body and improve the way you feel about the way you look.
How Much and How Often
A lot of times, when people hear that exercise can help their mood, they often think that in order to benefit mentally that they have to exercise for an extended period of time. If you’re already feeling down, the last thing you may want to do is gear up for a long, sweaty gym session. There is good news, however. While spending an hour in the gym or running outside certainly won’t hurt you, you don’t have to dedicate that much time to receive mental health benefits. According to a research-based article published in the Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, just 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, like brisk walking, three times per week is all you need — and it can be broken up into shorter sessions, such as three 10-minute walks.
Studies have also shown that exercise can not only boost your mood, but it can help prevent serious bouts of depression from recurring. The American Psychology Association cited a 2010 study conducted by Duke University Psychologist Dr. James Blumenthal, who reported that “Exercise seems not only important for treating depression, but also in preventing relapse.” Later in that article, Dr. Michael Otto, professor of psychology at Boston University, explains that exercise provides “near-instant gratification,” and that many people avoid exercise when they could use it the most, which is when they’re feeling down. Although it can take longer to alleviate symptoms of anxiety or depression, exercise is a great way to help keep serious bouts at bay.
Overall, exercise is an excellent way to help boost your mood naturally and without taking any supplements or medications. For individuals who have suffered from issues with their mood or for those who have had problems with addiction, exercise is an excellent option to stay healthy and happy. The best part is, when you boost your mood with exercise, you’re not just helping your mind, you’re helping your body, too.