exercise and mood

Mind-Body-Mood Advisor: The Magic Medicine that Everyone Should Try

You can lift your mood and improve your health with a single remedy. And it doesn’t require a prescription.

By Jeffrey Rossman, PhD

Mind-Body-Mood Advisor: The Magic Medicine that Everyone Should Try

Secret to exercise success: If your workout isn't fun, find one that is.

RODALE NEWS EMMAUS, PA—Have you noticed that most of the TV commercials you see during the evening news these days are for drugs? “Trouble sleeping? Can’t turn your mind off? Anxious? Depressed? We have the drug for you!” And the ad always ends with a rapid list of side effects and cautions, usually spoken too rapidly to hear or scrolled too fast to read.

I’d like to see a different kind of commercial: “Would you like to sleep better, feel calmer, enhance your mood, boost your energy? Dozens of recent studies have shown that aerobic exercise consistently produces these benefits. And exercise has been found to produce the following positive side effects: Improved concentration and memory, weight loss, lower cholesterol, reduced blood pressure, increased immune function, enhanced sexual performance, and improved self-esteem. Because it enhances feelings of pleasure and well-being, exercise may be habit-forming. Ask your doctor if exercise is right for you.”

Although we haven’t seen that commercial yet, you’ve probably heard that information. It’s out there. And yet, 80 percent of Americans don’t get the 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week as recommended by the National Institutes of Health, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the American Heart Association. You know the reasons: We’re too busy, too tired, too sore, the weather is bad, it’s too hard to get to the gym. If we could reap the benefits of exercise by simply taking a pill, everyone would take it. Although it takes time, energy, and determination to exercise, virtually everyone who manages to work out feels better afterward. Studies show that regular exercisers are healthier, happier, and more productive than they were before they started exercising, and will do anything to avoid missing their workouts.

How does exercise boost your mood? Psychologically, it takes your mind off of worries and concerns while you’re doing it and delivers a feeling of accomplishment and enhanced self-esteem when you’re done. Physiologically, exercise releases a whole cascade of mood-elevating processes in your brain, effects that any pharmaceutical company in the world would pay big bucks to duplicate. As soon as you start exercising, levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are increased. More than 40 different types of endorphins—stress hormones that calm the brain and relieve stress—are also released during strenuous exercise. Over time, exercise actually stimulates the birth of new brain cells and promotes their linkage to existing brain cell networks. By stimulating that new growth, exercise helps counteract the corrosive effect of stress and helps the brain to continually re-wire itself and adapt to changing life circumstances.


Published on: April 20, 2009

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This is a good reminder of what most of us understand intuitively, but allow to be pushed back on our list of priorities.

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Sara June 24th

Hey Sara...good for you for sticking with it even though you haven't seen the results you hoped for! You seem to be on the right path for cardiovascular health and wellness. You mention everything you ARE doing...what are you NOT doing? How is your diet? Are you eating nutritious, low fat/calorie foods? I recently (about a month ago) came across a recipe book and just the title alone got my interest up. In reading I learned a lot about diet and nutrition. Now, I wasn't looking to lose weight, as I am already a little underweight for my height at 5'10" and 137 pounds when I began, but I DID have some fat I wanted to lose that exercise never got rid of. Well, let me tell you I have not only lost the fat but 14 pounds as well! Yes, 14 pounds...all in about 5 weeks. I'm trying to put some weight back on!!! Check this It works, it's encouraging and informative, and the recipes are DELICIOUS! Good luck to you!!!

How many hours a week is enough to see weight loss?

I'm 5'4 and 149 pounds. I've been working out since February, for 4 months now and I've only lost 1 pound. In February I worked out a total of 2 1/2 hours starting mid-month. In March I worked out 3 hours and 45 minutes total. {I lost my calendar for April} In May I worked out a total of 5 hours and 25 minutes. So far in June I've worked out a total of 8 hrs and 45 minutes.

When I started working out I was swimming in 25-30 min intervals. Even that took a lot out of me.
Four months later, and I can swim for 45-50 minutes. Plus, I started taking aqua aerobics and yoga and yesterday I tried a kickboxing class.

So, my question is how many hours a week should I be working out to see weight loss. It seems like my workouts are keeping me at the same weight. 149 pounds. My goal is to lose 20 pounds. At this point, even if I lose 10 pounds I'll feel successful.

Thanks for listening.

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