The other day as I was running along my mood took a complete 180. I left my house feeling bad about myself and grumpy and a few miles in my whole perspective on those things had changed. The change that took place was more than any amount of swedish fish could have done.
I have always known that running puts me in an incredibly good mood (almost too good obviously) but I really wanted to learn about WHY running makes people happy so I turned to science to find out (oh yeah, and I am teaching about exercise tomorrow so I thought I would share with you some of the things I was going to be teaching my students).
(information and quotes from Runner’s World, ‘The Runners Body’)
A few of the reasons that running makes us happy:
1. “Most antidepressant medications work by increasing brain levels of neurotransmitters that have a positive effect on mood. Exercise, by wholly different mechanisms, increases the availability and effectiveness of the very same chemicals.”
2. “Exercise reduces depressive behaviors by increasing levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter related to alertness and self-esteem, in certain parts of the brain.”
3. “Exercise has also been shown to increase dopamine storage in the brain and to stimulate the development of new dopamine receptors in the brain’s mood centers.”
4. “Exercise stimulates neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells, which is another phenomenon that elevates mood and improves learning capacity.”
5. “Running also greatly reduces the negative effects of stress on the brain and the rest of the body.”
6…….Most important of them all……..”Exercise boosts serotonin, the best-known mood-related neurotransmitter, which is also targeted by the best known antidepressant medication, Prozac.”
-As I was thinking about these things it made sense to me why I was not nearly as happy as I am now when I was injured. Of course running and exercise cannot and should not be the center of our universes but when our bodies and mind get used to this daily amount of serotonin and norepinephrine, of COURSE we aren’t going to feel as happy when we go without it.
-If you are struggling with enjoying working out/running, just think about all of these wonderful chemical releases that are going on in your body that you may not feel during your workout but you KNOW you will feel after your workout!
A study done in Athens in 1993 found that women who had exercised had a better mood (for a full 24 hours after the workout) compared to those that did not work out. A FULL DAY of benefits from just a little time working out….yep, sign me up! (study also found in the ‘Runners Body’)
Exercise is something that WE are in control of. We know how it makes us feel, we are in control to do it whenever we want and for however long we want. Knowing that we are in control of something that we know will make us feel less stress and instantly better improves our overall happiness!
What do you think about the stuff above? Agree, disagree? Have you noticed a difference in your happiness from your pre-working out days and now? What about during an injury or time away from running/exercise….notice any differences?
Do your coworkers/family/friends/roommates notice a difference in your moods when you do or do not workout?
-Yep, Billy usually hides in the closet when I go without working out for too long;)