10 ways exercise improves your mood
We all know what great health benefits exercise can give us: strong enduring body, reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even cancer. Regular exercises strengthen your bones and muscles, increase your flexibility, and help you stay active and mobile as you age, helping you live longer. But exercise affects our mental health and mood, too. Studies show that sport is very effective in treating minor depression, no worse than therapy and prescription drugs. These mood-enhancing benefits of sport work for everyone.
If you know that you’re prone to depression or seasonal affective disorder, start exercising. And even if you don’t have such problems, going to the gym can still give you a bunch of positive effects.
1. You think more clearly
When you exercise, a part of your brain called the ventral prefrontal cortex activates. This part is responsible for decision making and emotional processing. After your workout you’ll think more clearly and make better decisions.
2. Reducing of negative emotions
The same part of the brain – the ventral prefrontal cortex – processes negative emotions like fear or anger, helping you decide whether certain situations are risky or not. So when frequently we activate this part of the brain during exercises, it helps you better process negative emotions, so you can stay focused on the positive.
3. You deal with stress better
It is been proven that people who exercise can more effectively deal with stress. Another part of your brain called the dorsal raphe nucleus is responsible for mood regulation through serotonin (one of the neurotransmitters this part produces) and for alerting you to the stress in your environment through Substance P (another neurotransmitter). And regular exercise alters this part of the brain.
4. Reducing tension and anxiety
While exercising, your serotonin (that’s “good mood” neurotransmitter) level increases, thereby negative emotions decrease and positive ones increase.
5. Improves memory
Exercise activates a part of your brain called the hippocampus, which plays a key role in helping you form new memories and reproduce old ones.
6. Improves cognitive performance
Even short periods of intensive exercise throughout the day can increase your performance and productivity.
7. Helps reduce pain
There is this feeling called “runner’s high” – euphoria that is experienced by some people engaged in serious running, which is associated with a release of endorphins by the brain. That’s when you feel pain reduction. But you don’t have to run marathons to experience these pain-reducing benefits of exercise. Even simple water aerobics or other low-impact activities can reduce pain.
8. Increases body satisfaction
It’s a fact – people who regularly exercise usually feel increased body satisfaction after their workout sessions.
9. Better romantic relationships
People who exercise report having better romantic relationships. Probably it’s because you feel better about yourself and more confident after exercise. Perhaps it improves your sex life. Or maybe the good mood it puts you in helps smooth over any issues you might have with your romantic partner.
10. Exercise makes you happy
Studies show that people who exercise are happier. Just simple as that.