Exercise and Brain Chemistry

Depression is a mood disorder which causes persisting feelings of apathy and sadness. It is somewhat a complex condition, with several contributing factors. That said changes to your brain biochemistry is likely play a part.

“Simply put, most people who are depressed have something wrong with their brain chemistry,” says William Walsh, Ph.D., president of the Walsh Research Institute, a nonprofit mental health research institution in Illinois. “Life experiences can make things worse,” he adds, “but usually the dominant problem is chemistry.”

Exercise can significantly help relieve symptoms of depression in lots of ways. As well as benefiting our physical fitness, it helps stimulate the release of feel-good brain chemicals.

Endorphins and other brain chemicals

When we you think about exercise and depression is what is commonly known as “runner’s high.” This describes the release of endorphins that your brain experiences when you physically exert yourself. Endorphins are a type of neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger released in the brain and which help relieve pain and stress.

Endorphins are only one of a multitude of neurotransmitters released when we exercise. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals play an important part in regulating your mood.

Exercising regularly can positively impact serotonin levels in your brain. By raising our levels of serotonin boosts our mood and overall sense of well-being. It can also help improve our food choices, appetite and sleep cycles, which are often negatively affected by depression.

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