Do you go through phases of working out regularly and then stopping for any number of reasons? Do you then press yourself to exercise again because you know how good it makes you feel?
The body and mind are interwoven entities that cannot be separated. One has a profound influence on the other. When our bodies let us down, our mental health can also deteriorate, and vice versa.
This is more than just a feeling — there’s science to back it up. Let’s delve a little deeper.
Serotonin is a chemical found in the brain and gut that helps to regulate mood as well as your body’s internal clock. Dopamine is a brain chemical that literally plays a role in how happy you are. High serotonin and dopamine levels are good. Low levels are bad and can contribute directly to poor mental health and depression.
A study called "An examination of serotonin and psychological variables in the relationship between exercise and mental health" found a connection between the brain and body when it comes our brain chemicals that help with better mental health. It was published in 2011 by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.
The Journal reported that "untrained participants were randomly assigned to an aerobic exercise group or to a stretching-control group. Participants completed several questionnaires to assess psychological variables, including measures of depression and anxiety, and blood was drawn at pre- and post-test to measure serum serotonin levels.
"A mixed-design ANOVA revealed that the exercise group had lower levels of depression than the stretching-control group after the intervention. The exercise group also showed a larger percentage decrease in serotonin than the stretching-control group. This reduction in blood serotonin after exercise is similar to the effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRI's]".
Dopamine, the feel-good chemical, is contained in our brain.