1. It Really Boosts Your Mood
The mood boosting benefits of exercise are clear to anyone who’s exercised – perhaps not before or during, but that post-exercise feeling is a definite mental buzz. It’s a sense of accomplishment, but there is something more biological at play too. Exercise releases feel good chemicals called endorphins which help us feel more positive and can even help us perceive less pain.
A 2013 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, found that regular exercise can change the areas of the brain that are responsible for regulating stress and anxiety. The same study found that staying active helps the brain to become more receptive to serotonin and noradrenaline – hormones that can help relieve the symptoms of depression. The authors of the study also found that those suffering with anxiety could manage their symptoms better after exercising.
Exercising at different intensities didn’t seem to have vastly different impacts either, suggesting that mild to moderate activity could be effective in improving mood. A different study in 2016 appeared to back this up. This study concluded that exercise of any intensity significantly improved feelings of depression whether the exercise was of a light, moderate or hard intensity.
The reverse is true, too. In a 2011 study, researchers found that those who regularly exercised reported a significantly lower mood if they stopped, even for only two weeks.