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How Exercise can make you feel more euphoria and less pain!

We all know that exercise helps mental health, but are you clear on how or why?

Different types of exercise affect our hormones in different ways, and have varying impacts on our bodies and how we’re feeling. Our body releases a mixture of hormones and endorphins when we exercise, which creates a sense of euphoria and lowers our perception of pain. They play a vital role in maintaining good mental health. Some of the hormones released include:

  • Dopamine: a type of neurotransmitter made in the body. The nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells. Dopamine plays a role in feeling pleasure, the ability to think and plan, and stress responses.

  • Serotonin: a hormone that stabilizes feelings of well-being and happiness. Physical activity releases serotonin, which impacts your entire body by enabling brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin helps with sleeping, digestion, mood, social behaviour, appetite, digestion, memory and sexual function.

  • Testosterone: a male hormone that is mostly produced in the testicles, but is also present in lower amounts in females. Testosterone hormone levels are important to normal male sexual development and functions and play a vital role in physical and emotional wellbeing. Regular physical activity can help boost testosterone, which can slow the natural effects of aging.

  • Oestrogens: a group of hormones that play an important role in the normal sexual and reproductive development in women. Getting your heart rate up for at least a half hour every day helps to balance oestrogen levels, and has proven to help improve symptoms of the menopause.

Not only can exercise improve your mood, but the physical component of working out can help curb our natural fight-or-flight response. When we’re scared, our body releases stress hormones to increase our chances of survival, known as the fight-or-flight response. Whilst this was a helpful response for our ancestors, there are now fewer threats to our lives and so now this response can severely impact our mental health, increasing feelings of anxiety and panic. Exercise gives this response an outlet, which is especially useful in helping treat anxiety and other panic disorders such as PTSD. After all, it is called the fight-or-flight response, so your body needs a physical way to channel the stress.

Equally, exercise stimulates the body to release proteins and chemicals that can improve the structure and function of our brain. This in turn helps to keep our thinking, learning and judgement skills sharp.

Finally, we know exercise is good for our bodies but these physical changes can help impact how we feel as well:

  • Exercise strengthens your heart and improves circulation which in turn increases blood flow in the body. The blood carries oxygen from breathing around to different parts of the body to help them function better

  • Exercise lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease including high cholesterol, coronary artery disease and heart attacks

  • Exercise helps your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Changes in blood sugar level can affect our mood and mental state. Fluctuations in blood glucose can result in rapid mood changes, including low mood and irritability

By better managing physical health issues, we naturally feel more energetic, stronger and vibrant on a day-to-day basis.

Now the idea of exercising every day can feel daunting, but even just 10-15 minutes of exercise a day can help battle depression. So, try getting outside and getting that blood pumping to experience some of these benefits.

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