You’ve heard it time and time again from your parents to your doctors, it seems like everyone wants you to exercise! Well, I am sorry to add another neg to the list, but I’m going to tell you the same thing. I promise, dare I say pinky promise, that exercise can become a powerful tool in maintaining your mental health!
First off, exercise plays a critical role in regulating the fight-or-flight response of your sympathetic nervous system! Studies have shown that prolonged exercise recalibrates your body’s natural stress response, reducing overall anxiety.
Secondly, animal studies have shown that exercise increases the release of important chemical signals in the brain, such as serotonin, and norepinephrine (Berger, Gray, & Roth, 2009; Briley & Chantal, 2011) . Increased serotonin and norepinephrine have both been correlated with decreased risk for depression and anxiety!
Lastly, exercise has been shown to increase levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF encourages the growth and survival of brain cells. It has been strongly implicated in better memory, reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms, and reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders!
Increasing your exercise can be a daunting task, but as you can see the benefits are well worth it! The future of exercise research is exciting, and every day seems to provide us with more biological reasons for hopping on that elliptical. With some hard work and dedication, we can sweat our way to a happier, healthier mind and body!