Have you ever woke up tired, under the weather, feeling heavy, or feeling off? Well, your mood and energy levels are most likely to blame. Did you know that the core of your body is made up of pure energy? That’s right, the core of your being—like all things in the universe—is 100% energy. It’s downright important, therefore, to prioritize your energy levels, as it regulates all other functions in your body, including your mood. And exercise, whether you like it or not, is the activity that will help get you there.
In this article, you’re going to learn the seven ways in which regular exercise boosts your mood and energy.
You see, the norm of society nowadays is the main culprit to lower mood and energy levels. In a world where sitting for long stretches at a time has become the new disease, it may come as no surprise that you feel lethargic regularly. Having said that, if you’re ready to get exercising for a minimum of 20 minutes a day, then you’re going to find out exactly how your life can take a turn for the better.
Now, exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be uphill sprints, running a marathon, or lifting heavy weights at the gym. While all the above are effective ways of keeping healthy, studies have found that a brisk walk and engaging in regular house chores can do it for you.
Whatever regularly gets you off the couch is a winning strategy. Let’s dive into the ways regular exercise boosts your mood and energy.
1. Lowers Depression
Depression is an inflammatory condition and mood disorder, which can lead to all sorts of physical problems down the road. Luckily, studies have shown that simply an hour of low-intensity exercise a week was sufficient to possibly prevent future depressive episodes.
Now, one hour is the lower side of the spectrum. If you increase your intensity to a moderate-to-vigorous one, such as running, or increase the time you spend exercising, your odds of keeping depression at bay increase.
How does it alleviate depression? Well, exercise such as running is proven to be as effective as anti-depressant medications.
How so? Exercise releases “happy” brain chemicals called endorphins, which are your body’s natural equivalent of morphine. Upon exercise, the flood of endorphins suppresses pain and boosts your mood.
You may have heard the term “runner’s high” being thrown around a few times. Well, as endorphins mask all pain your mind and body may be going through, you may be left with a feeling of euphoria.
2. Improves your Sleep
Whether you’re struggling to get enough hours of sleep at night, wake up feeling unrested, or suffer from broken sleep patterns, regular exercise boosts your mood and energy alright, but it also boosts your body’s wake-sleep cycle.
As you can imagine, exercise requires substantial physical exertion by your body, more so the more strenuous you choose to go. A moderate to vigorous run or workout, therefore, can leave you pumped and energized for a couple of hours afterward as endorphins flood your system.
But as you physically exert and tire your body out, a signal is also sent to your body to repair and recharge itself through sleep. Not only can the body signal to the brain a need to sleep at night by producing melatonin, the brain chemical that induces sleep, but the regular release of stress tension through exercise also aids and supports the release of this vital hormone.
In fact, in a fast-paced, technological era, regular exercise can counter the effects of melatonin suppression as a result of increased stress levels and screen time. Having said that, it’s important to keep an eye on the time at which you carry out certain exercises.
For example, If you’re going for a brisk walk or engaging in house chores and other low-intensity exercises, then the time of day is not necessarily important. However, as a rule of thumb, if you’re going to go for a run or gym workout and engage in moderate to vigorous exercise at night, the increased energy and endorphins post-exercise may work out against you.
Exercise late at night can disrupt rather than promote the release of melatonin as your body remains agitated and energized for a while afterward. Hence, try to fit in your regular exercise in the mornings for the best quality sleep at night.
3. Improves Your Self-Esteem
How does a sustainable shift in your confidence levels sound to you? Wouldn’t it feel great to believe you’re worth and capable of handling things you never before thought you would? That’s right, engaging in regular exercise can rewire your brain’s perception of self-respect and boost your beliefs in your own capabilities.
The simple act of completing one workout or run can leave you feeling a short-term sense of pride and accomplishment. Now, as you start feeling these feelings regularly through exercise, your body and mind will quickly start to recognize this as a habit. Like all habits, the body and mind will start to change to accommodate the new changes being experienced in your life.
It may take you a couple of months until your new weekly exercise routine starts to become automatic, but stay consistent and remind yourself of the feel-good feelings you experience after every workout. Once your new habit becomes hardwired into your nervous system, you’ll quickly start to realize a positive shift in your self-esteem, which can domino into other areas of your life, and another important area of your life worth mentioning is your diet.
Generally speaking, when you feel good and great in your body and mind, you’re more likely to want to maintain those feel-good feelings and reach out for healthy food choices. Don’t worry, your body generally knows what’s best for you. Every individual responds best to different healthy food choices.
In general, the lighter you feel, the more energy you’ll radiate and the higher your overall sense of well-being. From a place of high self-esteem and self-respect, you’ll find yourself more in control of your eating habits and make choices that suit your body best.
4. Increases Daily Energy
As already mentioned, your entire human body is made up of energy. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the simple act of moving your body can do enough to move stagnant energies around to make you feel more alive. Regular exercise, however, can do way more than just move your stagnant energies.
Just to give you a short biology class, every single cell of your body is responsible for creating the energy you experience daily. This happens because each one of your cells has little structures within them called mitochondria. It’s these structures that are responsible for generating the energy for each one of your cells. They are in fact called the “powerhouse” of the cell.
Why is this important? Well, no energy, no life!
You see, when you exercise regularly close to physical exhaustion, your body will start signaling to your cells that they need to generate more energy. This is done by signaling your cells to create more mitochondria. As more mitochondria are generated, the more oxygen your cells can absorb to accommodate your exercise routine and the more power and energy you will start to feel daily.
If you build up enough stamina with regular exercise, you can begin to feel like you can run an entire marathon!
Bonus Tip: Mitochondria feed off your food intake. So, keep an eye out for what you’re putting into your body for optimal energy levels.
5. Increased Resilience to Stress
Regular exercise doesn’t only lower the cortisol levels in your blood, but it can also increase your tolerance to the stressors in your life.
As you exercise, even at low levels, your muscles release chemicals that signal to your brain to effect some changes. These chemicals, known as myokines, not only reduce anxiety and depression, but they boost your mood and can also make your brain more resilient to stress.
This can be of great benefit to you if you get overwhelmed easily. The more you exercise, the more myokines are released into your bloodstream. As they pass through the blood-brain barrier, the more they can influence lasting structural changes in your brain for the better.
6. Better Focus and Memory
The release of endorphins in your system not only boosts your mood. Have you ever noticed how sharp you feel after a workout?
Well, regular exercise can, directly and indirectly, improve your cognitive functioning over the long term. Thanks to improved sleeping patterns and lowered stress levels in your body, your mental capabilities become sharper, increasing your attention span as well as your short-term memory.
In a world where our attention spans are getting shorter over the years thanks to technology, exercise can be the perfect counterbalance. In fact, studies show that regular exercise can also directly encourage the production and growth of new blood vessels in the brain, boosting your thinking skills.
7. Higher Consciousness
Yes, exercise can be a meditation in itself. For all of you thinking that meditation is all about mantra chanting, it’s not. It’s actually all about connecting to yourself, connecting your mind, body, and spirit. When you exercise, such as going for a run, you’re forced to focus on your breath. If you don’t, you can easily tire yourself out early and get a stitch.
Focusing on your breath is partly what meditation is all about. As you control your body’s breathing, your focus shifts off your mind and onto your body. Without knowing it, you’re engaging in mindfulness practice.
As you begin to become more aware of your breath and the movement of your body, in time, you’ll also come to experience the stillness of your mind. When your mind is still, it allows you to experience higher levels of consciousness, which is the holy grail to feeling better in mood and energy.
Higher levels of consciousness not only boost your energy but can also leave you feeling prolonged feelings of happiness, love, and joy in your life. In other words, you’ll get to feel more alive than you do right now.
So, what are you waiting for to get off the couch? You have so many benefits waiting for you.
No matter your age, you don’t have to start any vigorous routine immediately. Simply realizing regular exercise boosts your mood and energy and making it into a habit will allow everything else to take care of itself.
Remember, the best investment you can make in life is in yourself. So, invest in your future self today to truly come alive and feel great!
More Exercise Tips
Featured photo credit: Chander R via unsplash.com
|||^||Science Daily: Even minimal physical activity measurably boosts health|
|||^||Science Daily: One hour of exercise a week can prevent depression|
|||^||Harvard Health Publishing: Exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression|
|||^||Sleep.Org: How exercise affects sleep|
|||^||Harvard Health Publishing: Exercise can Boost your Memory and Thinking Skills|