Relationships between Exercise and Mental Health: How Exercise Improves Mood

Relationships between Exercise and Mental Health: How Exercise Improves Mood

by Danielle Chevalier 2/9/20 15:11 CSTPhysical exercise, as everyone knows, is important in maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle. You may be wondering, what exactly does exercise do to improve my mental health? What is the relationship between exercise and my mood? Breaking apart a study involving over 87 references, exercise is shown to improve quality of life, mood, and mental health.

Positive Effects of Exercise on Mood

Studies show that healthy individuals who exercise regularly experience better moods than individuals who do not. Boosts in mood, self-esteem, and general well-being are reported following regular exercise. Additionally, regular exercise offers protection against depression, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, and more . On the other hand, a lack of exercise may be a risk factor in developing depression.

How Does Exercise Improve Mood?

Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises are shown to improve mood. In other words, outwardly active sports like soccer or football can do as much good for your mood as body building or sports training. Hypothesis on how different exercises improve mood are thought to be a combination of psychological and physiological explanations.

There are three main psychological explanations: distraction, self-efficacy, and social interaction. Often times when you are exercising, your mind is distracted from things usually bothering you which in turn leads to an improvement of mood. Self-efficacy is the belief we have in our own abilities. When we are exercising, we rise to a physical challenge and conquer it. Finally, social interaction within the context of exercise is important for improving mood as our exercise companions or teammates offer a vital support system.

Additionally, there are physical explanations as to why our mood improves with exercise. The most commonly associated physiological responses to mood improvement are monoamines and endorphins. The release of these two neurotransmitters in the brain act similar to antidepressants, ultimately leading to a calm and improved mood.

Negative Effects of Excess Exercise on Mood

On the flip side, too much exercise can be detrimental to mood. Studies have shown that single, intense instances of physical exercise do not lead to an improvement of mood. In fact, too intense of exercise can make your mood worse than it was when you started to exercise! So, while it is important to exercise, overdoing it can be bad for your mental health. It is better for you in the long run to stick to a 30 minute, moderate-intensity workout than an hour of high-intensity exercise.

We at W2GG recognize the importance of exercise, and encourage every one of our readers to get out there and exercise at least 30 minutes a day. How do you guys get out there and stay active? Is there any other questions you have about physical exercise and mental health? Let us know in the comment section below! If you’re interested in reading the research this article is based on, click here to see the original research article.


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