The psychological benefits of exercise are often overlooked. Today’s society greatly focuses on the physical benefits of exercise, such as weight loss, toned muscles and “six-pack abs.” Although these are remarkable benefits, the psychological benefits can be just as, if not more significant than the physical benefits dependent on your needs and goals. Research has shown that regular exercise delivers a mental and emotional boost. It improves your mood, bolsters your self-esteem and gives you the confidence to handle whatever comes your way. Some studies hint that it also enhances the functioning of your brain. Many theories about the psychological benefits of exercise have surfaced from exercise physiology and sports psychology. One common area of study is neurochemistry. Scientists believe that when exercising, chemicals called endorphins are produced in the brain and released into the body.
The word endorphin is abbreviated from the phrase “endogenous morphine” which means morphine produced naturally by the body. Endorphins are thought to relieve stress and pain naturally, giving one an euphoric and invigorating feeling. This is also known as “runner’s high.” Just one workout can release another cache of natural antidepressant chemicals from your body’s medicine cabinet, such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Other theories focus more on the indirect effects of exercise. A popular opinion is that exercise may create a distraction and provide an “outlet” from everyday sources of stress, therefore positively enhancing one’s mental condition. Also, another thought is that muscle tension tends to be reduced after a good exercise session and this can promote a feeling of relaxation and calmness.
If your goal is Stress Management, there are a number of exercises I can work with you on to achieve this objective. Enhanced Moods: Exercise makes most people feel good and when people feel good, their moods seem to elevate. Whether this is due to the release of endorphins or providing a distraction from daily stress, many studies show that regular exercisers have a more positive outlook and are happier overall in comparison to the inactive population. Alleviate Depression: Studies show that regular exercise can greatly alleviate and in some cases prevent the symptoms of depression.