For any of you who have experienced a ‘runner’s high’ or endorphin rush while exercising you know how powerful the feeling can be. But there are many more chemicals at play than just endorphins and they can do much more than just make you temporarily feel good. Regular exercise can help you combat high levels of stress and anxiety.
In Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain the authors explain how exercise can become your best medicine.
We all know that chronically high levels of stress is very unhealthy but did you know that it can actually destroy the connections between nerve cells in the brain?
But this process can also be reversed.
It’s important to note that while a lot of stress is bad, a little stress can be very good. Physical fitness is one discipline which has always advocated introducing controlled stress to your system. That is, after all, how we break down and build up our muscles. The neurons in our brains benefit from a bit of stress in the same way our muscles do.
To get the most mental benefit from your exercise program ideally you need to spend some time pushing yourself and getting a bit outside of your comfort zone.
You also need to build a routine. The stability of a routine can have dramatic effects on your mood and motivation.
Lastly, exercising at a moderate intensity serves another important function; it helps take out the trash.
Okay, maybe I won’t skip yoga tonight.
This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.
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