How Exercise Benefits Your Mental Health

How Exercise Benefits Your Mental Health

Recently we discussed how massage can help with the symptoms of depression. But how about treating depression with exercise, too? Many studies show that folks who exercise regularly get a positive boost in their overall sense of well being, and lower rates of depression.

Benefits like improved self esteem result from exercise, because your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. They also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. As an example, after a run or workout, the feeling people describe is “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” makes you feel good long after the workout or run.

When you stimulate your endorphins through exercise, they act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain, and as sedatives, aiding sleep.  They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. Unlike many medications, though, exercise typically isn’t harmfully addictive (there are exceptions to this, of course, usually accompanying bulimia or anorexia).

Exercise in underused, yet very effective as an adjunct therapy for depression.  Any kind of exercise can stimulate the release of those “feel good” substances, so get moving!

Try this exercise to boost your mood:

Happy Baby Pose Ananda Balasana

Happy Baby Pose/Ananda Balasana seemed to fit my theme today of happiness!

This pose gently brings greater awareness to your joints, and opens up the lower back, as you shift your weight side to side, just like a baby would. Lying on your back, reach for your feet (if you can’t reach, no problem, just grab the closest bit—your ankles, your calves). Then you can hold, or shift your weight side to side.

Get Started! Tell us about your goals!

By Melissa Abramovich, Personal Trainer at Elite Sports Club-River Glen

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