It’s mental health month. Research is mounting on the connections between exercise and mental health. Countless research studies show that exercise has incredible benefits, not just for physical health, but for all areas of health, including mental, emotional, intellectual and social well-being.

When it comes to stress management, published data shows that people with higher levels of fitness are capable of managing stress more effectively than those who are less fit. It appears that cardiovascular exercise is the method that most benefits stress reduction. The research indicates that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise lasting over 20 minutes, performed three times a week for 12-weeks, has the most influence on stress management. Just how does it work? During and after exercise a number of physiological changes occur within the body that add up to a changed mental state. With an increase in heart rate, breathing and oxygen delivery throughout the body, including the brain, the mind and body become more alert, energetic and vibrant. The heart and circulatory system becomes stronger and more efficient at handling stress.

During exercise the chemical serotonin and dopamine are released. These neurotransmitters produced in the brain improve mood and protect against mental health disorders. Serotonin is produced during long-term cardio exercise and decreases feelings of depression and hostility. Dopamine improves mood and long-term memory. Together they contribute to the feeling of pleasure and what is called the “runners high.”

As well, during cardiovascular exercise there is an increase in the level of endorphins, or the “feel good” chemical in your body. These mood-boosting chemicals have an antidepressant action. Both cardiovascular and resistance training exercise have an effect on various mood states, including tension, fatigue, anger and vigour. Changes in mood, increased positive feelings and decreased negative moods can occur immediately after an exercise bout and have greatest effect after 16 …read more

Source:: Calgary Herald


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