For the moment, put aside all the compelling physiological reasons why you should exercise and instead focus on why it’s beneficial for your mental health. Countless research studies have shown the connection between improved emotional well being and exercise. Becoming more physically active will:
Enhance mood and productivity
Improve positive feelings
Decrease stress and anxiety
Increase overall feelings of contentment
Everyone has heard of endorphins, naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain which produce the “exercise high” – a state of euphoria reported by many active people. There is a direct correlation between the amount and intensity of exercise with how many endorphins your body will produce. More activity = higher concentrations of this opiate-like drug floating around in your brain for longer periods of time. The longer, harder and more frequently you exercise the happier you’ll become. You’ll gain an additional emotional lift through increased self esteem via positive body image. Setting and accomplishing a goal, even if it’s a goal for only today, heightens one’s sense of optimism, confidence and discipline. Many people, including myself, report feeling more creative and emotionally empowered while performing a physically invigorating task.
Increasingly, psychologists are prescribing exercise training in place of traditional drug therapies. Current treatment protocols for mild to moderate depression often include a prescription for physical activity. Oftentimes when you’re feeling down and out you get lethargic and tired. Exercise seems counterintuitive, but it’s the best thing you can do for yourself as a cure. Doing nothing makes you feel like nothing while expending energy creates positive energy. To ensure triggering an endorphin response in your body, perform an intense cardiovascular, strength training, or stretching routine for at least 30-45 minutes. The more you do the better you’ll feel, so start doing today!