Exercise is a natural mood booster

QUESTION OF THE MONTH
Can exercise improve my mood?

ANSWER:
There are many studies that show exercise actually can boost your mood. First, aerobic exercise like running, biking or other cardiovascular activities can prompt the release of mood-lifting chemicals. These endorphins create a feeling of well-being, power and control. In addition, repetitive cycles of muscle contraction in some aerobic exercises can increase levels of the chemical serotonin, which combats negative feelings.

Regular exercise also boosts energy levels. As your heart rate increases, oxygen-rich blood is delivered to vital parts of the body. The result is heightened brain activity, quicker recovery time and greater productivity.

Exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits, as well. The observable results, such as weight loss and improved muscle tone, are just some of the reasons people work out to feel better about themselves. Confidence is gained when goals are met and appearance is improved. Exercise is also a great distraction from worries and stress. In addition, exercise is an easy way to meet and socialize with others.

There are many exercises that improve your mood. Any activity that gets your heart pumping can help. Hit the gym for some weight lifting or a jaunt on the treadmill. Seek out a dance class or just dance around the house to your favorite tunes. Head outdoors to wash the car, do some gardening or take a stroll around the neighborhood. Doing 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week can make a significant difference in your emotional well-being.

Getting started and staying motivated can sometimes be even more difficult than the exercise itself. Set reasonable goals and tailor your plan to meet your abilities. Create a plan you will look forward to — exercise should never be seen as a chore. Choose activities that you enjoy and that you feel confident about. Remember to always give yourself credit for each step in the right direction. Be happy! Be healthy!

Anthony G. Barnes is the club owner at Anytime Fitness in Chester and holds a degree in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at anthony.barnes@anytimefitness.com

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