Regular aerobic exercise is a powerful way of increasing the cardiovascular system’s strength, improving muscle tone, and losing weight. Aerobic exercise has also been proven to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression rather quickly during exercise, with the effects lasting for hours afterward. When performed consistently, it can be a form of therapy that can improve overall mental health.
Get “Your Runner’s High”
Running and other aerobic exercises can help brighten the mood in a very real way. Once you have gained enough momentum to force your heart, muscles, and lungs to operate at maximum capacity, the central nervous system, and the pituitary gland release endorphins that act as stimulants in the body and brain. These endorphins are responsible for the runner’s high, so many regular joggers claim to feel. Serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine are some of these, and they last for hours in the body after a good run.
Create New Brain Cells
Regular cardiovascular exercises like jogging have been shown to cause the brain to generate new brain cells, improving or maintaining overall cognitive function. People between the ages of 25 to 45 will do well to get plenty of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise. The hippocampus, which is the part of the brain associated with cognitive function, deteriorates as we get older. Regular cardiovascular exercises prevent deterioration of the hippocampus that has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Sunshine and Fresh Air
Just being outdoors in pleasant, natural surroundings can dramatically improve the mood. This is especially true in surroundings with significant amounts of vegetation, such as parks and hiking trails. Jogging in natural environments increases your body’s and brain’s oxygen supply, and this means clear thinking and energy that remains constant for hours afterward. Anxious, nervous thoughts are released during exercise and replaced with positive, constructive thinking. This can lead to solutions to problems instead of confusion and worry over them.
Don’t let a busy schedule keep you from exercising. Instead, be sure to make time for it. Avoid feelings of tiredness that can keep you from exercising when it’s time by focusing on its benefits. Think about the improvements to your physical and mental health that are possible, get up, and get running.
Article originally published at michellebeltran.org