Body and mind are more closely linked than most of us realize. Think of the placebo effect, when the mind tricks the body into undergoing physical changes. Even more interesting is the impact of the body on the mind. The classic example is exercise, where physical activity regulates mood via two main mechanisms.
First, there is an increase in blood flow to the brain. As the heart pumps and circulates blood through the body, more blood can reach the brain, supplying it with oxygen and vital nutrients. Ultimately, the brain benefits in the form of improvements in executive functioning, which is responsible for mental processes such as working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control.
The second mechanism involved is the one that has the greatest impact on mood and emotions. Exercise is responsible for releasing several important chemicals known as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters include endorphins, endocannabinoids, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Endorphins and endocannabinoids are the body’s natural pain relievers. They act in a similar way to opioids and cannabis. When released, these neurotransmitters help reduce pain while producing a natural, mild euphoric high that increases pleasure and mood.
Dopamine is also released during exercise and is responsible for many processes in the body such as sleep, mood and memory. Norepinephrine, on the other hand, helps improve resistance to stress, which can reduce feelings of anxiety. Moreover, it also improves memory retrieval, especially for emotional memories.
Finally, serotonin is the key chemical responsible for mood and mood regulation. Increasing the amount of serotonin also reduces depressive symptoms.
Conjure up stress
All of the different physiological changes that occur in the body during exercise combine to improve mood regulation. Regular exercise promotes increased dopamine and general fatigue, which ultimately improves sleep quality. In turn, improved sleep has a positive impact on mood.
Additionally, the release of norepinephrine can help reduce and avoid stress. Since stress has a negative effect on mood, reducing stress improves your overall mood. Additionally, improvements in memory and mental clarity can help reduce frustration levels and improve efficiency, which can impact overall mood.
Last but not least, there is the effect of exercise on depression and depressive-like symptoms. Physical activity has been repeatedly and consistently shown to improve self-esteem and life satisfaction, while reducing negative thoughts.
Just take a walk
Aerobic and cardiovascular activities are forms of fitness that lead to increased blood flow and breathing rate. These types of activities can range from low intensity to high intensity and cover a wide variety of exercises. When you perform aerobic or cardiovascular workouts, the positive effects don’t take long to occur. Within five minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, you can begin to notice physical and emotional improvements. As there is a wide variety of exercises available, you can also select the activity that best suits your preferences and needs.
It may seem like a simple activity, but walking is a great form of aerobic exercise that can be done outdoors or indoors using a treadmill. A 2006 study found that walking can lead to significant mood improvements and other mental health benefits. Plus, walking can be a social activity, which can provide even greater benefits for mood and overall well-being.
For those looking to relieve stress or anger, higher intensity exercises have also proven helpful. This can include running, boxing, and circuit training. A 2020 study found that adults who engaged in high-intensity activities reported reduced levels of hostility and depression. Moreover, these effects continued for up to four weeks after cessation of physical activity. Another study in 2008 found similar results in adolescents, where exercise can reduce or prevent the expression of anger. Much like walking, high intensity exercises can be done in a group for even greater positive effects.
It may seem like a simple activity, but walking is a great form of aerobic exercise that can be done outdoors or indoors using a treadmill. A 2006 study found that walking can lead to significant mood improvements and other mental health benefits.
Research seems to suggest that meditative activities have strong effects on mood regulation. Meditation has proven benefits for mental health, well-being, and mood. Some exercise styles, such as yoga and tai chi, combine both physical activity and meditation. While aerobic activity focuses more on physical movements that stimulate the release of neurotransmitters, meditative activities combine relaxation techniques with physical movement. This allows for a greater emphasis on mental health benefits such as mood regulation, while retaining the physical benefits associated with working out.
Yoga is an exercise that focuses on meditation, breathing exercises, and physical postures. The most common and traditional form of yoga is known as Hatha yoga, which is slow and gentle. Generally speaking, Hatha yoga doesn’t provide much aerobic training, but it can improve strength and flexibility.
On the other hand, power yoga and vinyasa yoga involve faster movements, and therefore a higher level of physical activity. These types of yoga can provide the added benefits associated with aerobic workouts. A 2010 study found that yoga was better than walking for improving mood and reducing anxiety.
Additionally, yoga incorporates meditation and other techniques that directly relieve stress. These techniques can even be practiced when not actively engaged in yoga. A 2019 study found that practicing just 13 minutes of meditation a day for eight weeks resulted in decreased negative emotions and anxiety and improved attention, working memory, and recognition memory. . More importantly, this study was conducted on people with no previous meditation experience, which means the average person can also see these results within two months. If you are looking for a good yoga studio, go to Namaste Zone in Khalda. This studio was founded by Farah Qudsi, who has years of training in the art of yoga and offers classes for all age groups.
Tai chi is a traditional Chinese martial art that focuses on easy-to-learn, repetitive forms of movement. Additionally, tai chi includes self-reflection and breathing techniques. This type of exercise is slow, which makes it ideal for people of all ages, regardless of their fitness level. As the focus is on meditation, it shares many benefits with yoga. A 2018 review of 37 studies showed a reduction in depression, anxiety, stress and mood disorders in those who practiced tai chi. If you want to learn more about tai chi, check out Arnis Jordan on Facebook. This organization, headed by Grand Master Dr. Abdel Naser Jarrar, offers tai chi sessions as well as a host of other martial arts.
Read more Health