Why Working Out Makes You Feel Better
Working out is one of the easiest ways to feel better. Exercise plays a critical role in revitalizing both your body’s physical and mental health. Aside from toning the body and helping you achieve the shape you want, when you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins.
Endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine according to WebMD. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence. Which is why working out is a great way to reduce stress and fight depression.
Consider adding a cardio workout to your exercise plan. When you increase your heart rate, you strengthen your heart and blood vessels, improve the flow of oxygen throughout your body, while lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol. Aerobic exercise also helps to burn calories and reduce fat. The Mayo Clinic estimates that on average 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat. So, in general, if you cut about 500 to 1,000 calories a day from your typical diet, you will lose roughly 1 to 2 pounds a week.
Your Brain on Exercise
Vigorous exercise boosts two brain chemicals that help people ward off severe depression, according to a new imaging study by scientists at the University of California, Davis Health System.
Physical activity improves mental health by increasing the levels of two common neurotransmitters — glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA — that are responsible for chemical messaging within the brain.
“From a metabolic standpoint, vigorous exercise is the most demanding activity the brain encounters, much more intense than calculus or chess, but nobody knows what happens with all that energy,” said study lead author Richard Maddock. “Apparently, one of the things it’s doing is making more neurotransmitters.”
The researchers measured GABA and glutamate levels in two different parts of the brain immediately before and after three vigorous exercise sessions lasting between eight and 20 minutes, and made similar measurements for a control group that did not exercise. Glutamate or GABA levels increased in the participants who exercised, but not among the non-exercisers. Significant increases were found in the visual cortex, which processes visual information, and the anterior cingulate cortex, which helps regulate heart rate, some cognitive functions and emotion. Learn more >
Reaching Peak Performance
UC Davis’ findings on the relationship between exercise and mental health are not unique. Today there is a great deal of evidence that shows aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance. Many healthcare professionals and scientists believe exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to menopause to Alzheimer’s. According to John J. Ratey’s Spark: the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain:
The sedentary character of modern life is a disruption of our nature. And it poses one of the biggest threats to our continued survival. Evidence of this is everywhere: 65% of our nation’s adults are overweight or obese… it’s now becoming an epidemic among children. We’re literally killing ourselves. And it’s a problem throughout the developed world, not merely a province of the super-sized lifestyle of the United States. What’s even more disturbing, and what virtually no one recognizes, is that inactivity is killing our brains too. Physically shriveling them.
When you work out, the brain releases chemicals that make you feel good. Endorphins are nature’s painkillers that trigger euphoria and a sense of well-being. This energizing process also teaches your body how to better respond to stressors. But endorphins are only one of many neurotransmitters released when you exercise. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. All of these brain chemicals play an important role in regulating your mood.
Exercise can have other mental health benefits too. According to Healthline, focusing on your body’s movements during exercise may help distract you from upsetting thoughts. Setting and meeting exercise-related goals may also boost your confidence and sense of control.
The rise of social media and camera phones has increased society’s obsession with body image. For many people, how they look has a direct impact on their self esteem. Regular exercise leads to an improved body image, thereby boosting self esteem. When you lose belly fat, develop and strengthen muscle, the transformation is elating. The confidence you gain from regular exercise inspires you to improve on other aspects of your life, like your career and relationships. Just the success of creating an exercise plan and sticking to it allows you to enjoy a sense of achievement.
Working out regularly has a direct impact on your physical and mental health. If you want to feel better, consider creating an exercise routine to help you reach your fitness goals. Though many people work out in a commercial gym, exercising at home is more affordable than you may think. Having your own equipment gives you flexibility to workout on your own schedule. And the added convenience of a home gym can help you remain consistent and follow through with your plan. Speciality fitness stores like Fitness Gallery, carry a huge selection of quality equipment to help you meet your fitness goals.
Since 1997, Fitness Gallery in Denver, Colorado has helped thousands of people find the right exercise equipment to look and feel their best. Contact Fitness Gallery to learn more about about the quality strength and cardio equipment they offer, and start your workout today.