What to think better? Exercise!
Exercise is not just for increasing muscle size and strength, weight-loss, or decreasing diseases. Exercise can reduce stress level, help lift feelings of depression, and
This is undeniable important considering 27% of Canadian workers describe their lives as high stress and eight percent of Canadians are effected by depression.
Exercise can help improve mental health in three ways;
1. During exercise the body releases three major hormones. Serotonin is a chemical occurring within the body, that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness (and overall mood), appetite, sleep, and can help improve memory and ability to learn. Norepinephrine is a hormone associated with improved cognitive function and elevated mood. Endorphins are produces in the body and function as neurotransmitters; Endorphins are chemicals that interact with cell receptors in the brain, reducing your perception of pain, and trigger positive feelings in the body; this can be accompanied by a positive or energetic outlook on life, which in turn can help improve mood; endorphins resemble opiates in that they produce a natural “pain-killer” feeling, as well as feelings of well-being.
2. Exercise can provide a sense of control over the body. Concerning people suffering from depression, this sense of control can lead to realization that they can in fact have control in other areas of their lives too, alleviating some of the stress and feelings of helplessness that can be associated with depression. When it comes to exercise and depression, it is important to make sure it is something that you enjoy; you want to stay motivated to do it over a long period of time. Also exercise often results in a boost in self-esteem, by contributing to a sense of accomplishment. It also will lead to positive changes in the body, leading to an improved body image. Both of these factors reduce stress and feelings of negativity.
3. Exercise can actually improve brain power! Frequent and regular exercise helps reduce risk for age related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Exercise is also thought to improve learning, especially when coordination is involved. Exercise gets blood pumping, increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain. Exercise also helps in nerve cells bind together, which is the cellular basis for learning new information. Exercise also is thought to help development of new nerve cells in an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is related to memory and learning. How exciting!
There are many benefits to exercise, both for mental and physical health, and you can reap the rewards of regular exercise! But you’ve got to do the work! For maximum results, exercise needs to be done on a regular basis; this means between 3-5 times per week, and for a duration of 30-60 minutes.
One of my favorite quotes is “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” Keep that in mind!
Kaley Hall is an award winning personal trainer with 360fit in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.