We have always known there is a connection between exercise and our mood, but more and more frequently reports and studies find that there is solid scientific proof behind the links between physical activity and how happy we feel.
A natural aid to fight depression, exercise has been proven to lift our mood, boost confidence and reduce our risks of suffering from depression and anxiety. So how exactly does this work, and what can you do to benefit from the powerful mood boosting properties released from exercise?
What we are sure about is that exercise releases powerful mood boosting endorphins. If you’ve dabbled with exercise in the past, you’ll know all too well of the feeling you experience immediately afterwards. You’ll often feel uplifted, jovial and in some cases a little giddy. The post exercise feeling is often described as ‘euphoric’ and this is because of the endorphins released.
Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, not too dissimilar to that of morphine. When endorphins levels are high, you feel as if a weight has been lifted, your mind feels clear and at peace and you feel blissfully happy.
When we exercise endorphins are released, giving us an immediate high that can last for hours afterwards, and increase your general mood. This is why many people swear by exercising in the morning, as it sets them up well for the day, leaving them happy and motivated.
Furthermore, our self-esteem is boosted when we exercise. People who exercise regularly often have better self-confidence, and a general feeling that they could take on anything, making them more driven and experimental.
Those who suffer from anxiety often find exercise greatly calms them down. If you’ve ever felt uneasy, stressed or anxious often the answer is to take 30 minutes of exercise, which works to clear your mind, reduce anxiety and boost your mood.
Anxiety is reduced through exercise due to the endorphins released, but also the reduction of the immune system chemicals, which when high can cause us to feel stressed and uneasy. It also raises our over all body temperature, which induces a calming effect.
Exercising regularly also helps us sleep. When the body and the mind have worked hard many of us find it far easier to fall asleep at night, and experience more Rapid Eye Movement sleep, or REM (the deep sleep in which we recover and restore), and so when we are sleeping well, we feel more relaxed and are able to get more out of each day.
Putting it into practice…
The benefits of exercise for reducing depression and anxiety are clear, but what types of exercise should you be doing and how much? The general recommendation is 30 minutes of exercise per day to extend our life expectancy, but what about for reducing depression and increasing our mood?
To really benefit from all the mood boosting properties exercise has to offer, you should aim to do around 45 minutes to an hour of physical activity five times a week. When it comes to exercise it’s also important to bear in mind the impact it has on the body, so if you’re carrying out moderate to high intensity exercise it’s also important to rest too, so as not to overwhelm the body.
The more energy you can put into it, the more you’ll get out, and on your rest days don’t opt to sit around all day, go for a gentle walk in the sunshine instead to also benefit from vitamin D which can lift your mood too.
You might find from time to time you will feel under pressure or anxious, and so this is the perfect time to get a work out in. Clear your mind and get a hit of endorphins when you feel as if everything is getting on top of you, chances are by the time you’ve finished your workout you’ll feel very different and wonder why you even worried in the first place.
Exercise of all types will help to reduce your risk of stress and there are no proven exercises that are better than the other. Whatever you enjoy the most will work the best!
Try Go Flaunt It…
Go Flaunt It is a fantastic way to up your exercise and tailor it exactly to your needs. All this talk of fitting in an hour’s exercise five days a week may have left you wondering how exactly you’d manage to do that as many of us lead busy and hectic lives.
Go Flaunt It (http://appstore.com/goflauntit) is a brand new iOS fitness app that allows you to build your very own customized workout playlists to watch anywhere, anytime – even offline.
It’s basically the Netflix of fitness workouts, bringing together a huge library of fitness DVDs from the world’s best trainers. Subscribers can choose to workout to full-length DVD workouts or chapters varying in length, enabling users to fit in fitness around their lifestyles.
The app showcases a huge range of workouts and fitness regimes including aerobics, yoga, combat sport, Pilates, mixed martial arts and kettlebell training. It also has specialized workouts for different stages of life and varying levels of fitness, such as pre/post pregnancy and training for seniors.
Go Flaunt It provides workout videos from world-class trainers hailing from all over the globe. From celebrity yoga teachers Charlotte Dodson and Jessica James, to MMA professional coach Kevin Kearns, the new fitness app gives access to top quality training for a fraction of the price.
With the help of Go Flaunt it, you can reduce your risk of depression and anxiety, lift your mood, boost your confidence and sleep better, all from adding exercise to your lifestyle.
Heidi Kidder is the co-founder of Go Flaunt It, a fitness mobile app based in San Francisco. Heidi is a health and fitness enthusiast who used her product and operations management experience to design and build a product from the ground up that truly is tailored to each customer’s lifestyle. Through her own experience, she has come to understand the benefits of exercising and aims to help people start and maintain an effective exercise program for optimal health.