Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular physical activity. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as "euphoric." That feeling, known as a "runner's high," can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. Endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body's endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence. Regular exercise has been proven to:
Research has shown that exercise is an effective but often underused treatment for mild to moderate depression. Are there Types of Exercises That Are Better for Depression? It appears that any form of exercise can help depression; however our preferrance at the Resilience Institute leans toward weightlifting and bicycling. If you struggle to exercise alone you may find it beneficial to workout with a friend. If weightlifting or biking is not for you find an exercise that you enjoy. Choose something that you can fit into your schedule on a regular basis. Set goals and get started.