The Psychological Benefits of Exercise

8 Jan 2019 12:07 PMLicensee Person The Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Being a naturopath, I am all about herbs, vitamin, minerals and a healthy diet; but let’s not forget exercise. When you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins and reduces cortisol. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in your body, that feeling you get when you have had a great work out? Endorphins act as analgesics, so they diminish the perception of pain.

They are manufactured in your brain and spinal cord mostly and are released in response to brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). If you consulted me naturopathically, you will know I am all about neurotransmitters, they have many functions from improving mood, sleep and even digestion.

Exercise not only makes you feel good, feel fitter and look better it also

· Strengthens your heart

· Increases energy levels – even though you feel tired and don’t feel like exercising, push yourself as you will feel more energy after.

· Lowers your blood pressure – stress is a big indicator that you might have high blood pressure. Exercise not only helps you cope better with stress but it lowers your BP.

· Improves muscle tone and strength – doesn’t it feel great when you can feel your muscles working when you do something, you can feel the strength behind them.

· Strengthens and builds bones – resistance exercise is especially important here

· Improves quality of sleep – since exercise decreases stress and you have burnt some energy its easier for your body to enjoy the relaxion and healing benefits of sleep

· Good mental health – this is particularly so as you age.

What endorphins are released

As well as endorphins, exercise also release adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. All combine to “make you feel good”.

The best exercise to release endorphins is cardiovascular. Even 10min of moderate exercise has shown to improve mood and decrease fatigue. Obviously, more is needed to improve all aspects of the benefits of exercise.

Adrenaline – secreted by the adrenal (medulla) in response to stress and can increase heart rate, pulse rate, blood pressure and raise the blood levels of glucose and lipids. It is released as part of the bodies fight or flight response to stress and exercise.

Serotonin – a chemical messenger that is passed between nerve cells. Known as the happy chemical, contributing to wellbeing and happiness. It’s the precursor to melatonin and hence helps with sleep by regulating the body sleep wake cycles.

Dopamine – this is a sneaky little neurotransmitter and has many functions. It plays a big role in motivation and reward, nearly all pleasurable experiences involve the release of dopamine.

Both Serotonin and Dopamine are also good for digestion. Your gut contains 95% of your body’s serotonin and it is released when food enters the small intestine, where it helps to simulate contractions that push the food through.

Get on out there and find some exercise that you enjoy. If you don’t like the exercise you are doing you simply wont stick to it. It takes a while to build your fitness, but once you do, the possibilities are endless.