Why does Exercise Make You Feel Better?Leave a Comment
We’ve all been through it, the dreaded pre-exercise blues. Not quite sure if you want to go through with it; there are a million other things you could be doing instead. But you know that you will feel better if you do exercise, and while removing the guilt of not exercising is partly the reason, there is a scientific basis for why exercise makes us feel better.
Strenuous activity will elicit the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to release endorphins, which will cause a cascade of events in the brain that are associated with a mood boost.1 This boost can aid in the treatment of anxiety and depression, as well. Another way that this boost can help aid in anxiety and depression is by releasing neurotrophic proteins or growth factor protein.1,2,3 These substances help nerve cells grow and make new connections, improving the brain’s plasticity, which can alter it in a positive direction. To elicit the release of these proteins, it is recommended to do longer duration, steady-state cardiovascular work. Since endorphins are the main culprit of the mood boost behind exercise, where do they attach to the brain? Endorphins bind to our opioid receptors4, which explains why they can have the effect of making us feel “high.”
Below are some great options to get started with releasing your endorphins today:
- Go for a long walk outside
- Get a pump on at the gym
- Take your dog for a walk
- Find a friend to go to an exercise class with
- Follow along to a YouTube exercise/yoga video
- Take the stairs at your apartment vs. the elevator
If you have more questions about ways to get yourself moving or just want to get a little more guidance, schedule a Free Assessment with your local Athletico today. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform.
*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
3. So B, Kim HJ, Kim J, Song W. Exercise-induced myokines in health and metabolic diseases. Integr Med Res. 2014;3(4):172-179. doi:10.1016/j.imr.2014.09.007
4. Sprouse-Blum AS, Smith G, Sugai D, Parsa FD. Understanding endorphins and their importance in pain management. Hawaii Med J. 2010;69(3):70-71.