There are a number of reasons as to why exercise is good for us from the obvious physical effects but also from a psychological perspective. Exercise increases the release of natural opiates within the brain called endorphins which is chemically similar to morphine.
Exercise is also believed to increase the secretion of serotonin and dopamine and it reduces the level of cortisol which is a stress hormone. This means it allows us to be less stressed, and the feel good brain chemicals that are released can boost our mood and how we feel about ourselves and can reduce anxiety, sadness, worry and other depressive emotions.
From a social point of view, often, exercise allows us to get out in the world to be in an environment with others, which can help us from feeling isolated and unsupported to feeling active and to help meet new people. It can also give us new goals and a sense of purpose by having something positive to aim for.
What’s your preferred exercise? Would you choose the gym to help get your stress out? Do you prefer team sports such as football or rugby? Would you prefer to run outdoors, maybe listening to your favourite music? Would you prefer to play a one on one game such as tennis, squash or badminton with a partner or friend? Do you enjoy interactive video games such as the Nintendo Wii? Or something else?
In a nutshell exercise can beneficial to our mental state –
– Biologically – through the natural release of feel good chemicals
– Socially – though increased interaction
– Giving us a sense of purpose
– By offering us a distraction from our world if our world is stressful
Exercise is associated to –
- Enhanced mood
- Greater functioning
- Improved self esteem and self worth (including body image)
- Reduced Stress
- Reduced anxiety
- Decreased depression
- Improved thought patterns
Often when we’re feeling low, stressed, anxious or down, we choose to take a break, have a cigarette or drink alcohol when it maybe much better for us to engage (even if it is for only 10 minutes) in some activity whether it be playing with the kids, playing on the Wii, taking a quick run, cycling, doing some rigorous housework etc…. What would you ideal exercise release be?