During those moments when you are feeling elated, genuinely happy, the world around you is in technicolour and your mood has skyrocketed, have you ever thought it would be great if there was some magic pill to maintain that sensation forever. Conversely, when your mood sinks to the bottom of a muddy mire, you feel possessed by demons and your world is in sepia tones, have you wondered what it will take to lift you again? Is it simply a different chemical circulating in your body that dictates your mood?
There are obviously so many reasons for these different states of mind and I am no psychologist, however there is one variable that has conclusively been shown to make a difference to mood across the board. No matter if you are male or female, young or old, athletic or non athletic, menopausal or pubescent or even pregnant, exercise has proven benefits, showing both increases in vigour, self esteem and well being as well as decreases in anxiety and depression.
Another study shows that if doesn’t matter what is going on you life with problems big or small, or what type of personality you may have, exercise still improves mood for up to 5 hours after exercising. This has been proven scientifically through objective quantification using psychometric testing, cardiovascular monitoring and neurophysiological data.
What isn’t so clear is exactly why we feel so good both during and after exercise. Could it simply be distraction? Could it be Endorphin release or Monamine metabolism?
Distraction from personal issues is a huge relief however it only seems to paint part of the picture. Endorphins are those wonderful feel good hormones which are a response to vigorous exercise – and even laughing. They are produced in the Central Nervous System and Pituitary Gland as pain inhibitors and produce euphoria similar to Opioids.
Another contributing compound is Monamine whose metabolism is related to the production of Dopamine, another feel good chemical and neurotransmitter which is produced when we are rewarded. Dopamine is also associated with addictive drugs.
Sadly I have discovered one exception to the mood enhancement pattern. If you are working in a physically active job, there are no apparent mood benefits. Of course I beg to differ, as I always feel wonderful after a session, so it must just be due to my wonderful clients!