Psychological Effects of Exercise

author : ciarac
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The psychological benefits of aerobic exercise are numerous: mood enhancing, reduced anxiety and depression and also stress reduction.

In this article, I will explore the many benefits of aerobic exercise, but specifically, I will talk about the psychological benefits, which to my (healthy and happy) mind are almost more important. After all, an unhealthy mind is an unhealthy body!

But, what IS aerobic exercise??

According to the definition from the Global Healing Centers website, “Aerobic exercise is a type of movement such as running or cycling that gets your heart pumping faster and increases your oxygen intake.” Fine examples of aerobic exercise are running, dynamic yoga, cycling, fast walking, circuit training, skiing and rollerblading.

OK, so we are all told we need to partake in aerobic exercise to obtain many benefits, such as weight loss and better skin and muscle tone. But that’s not all! There are psychological benefits of aerobic exercise too!

So, what are the psychological benefits of aerobic exercise? In short, the benefits are improved mood, reduced anxiety, reduced depression and a buffer against stress.
But let’s go into a little more detail…

The Psychological Payoffs

Mood Enhancer
When we exercise aerobically, our bodies produce little chemicals called endorphins Scientifically speaking, endorphins are polypeptides, which are able to bind to the neuron-receptors in the brain to give relief from pain. Endorphins are not just produced from exercise; they are also triggered by deep-breathing, meditation, eating spicy food and deep laughter. Just don’t do all five at once!

Endorphins are believed to produce four key effects on the body: they relieve pain, they reduce stress, they enhance the immune system and they postpone the aging process. It may be worth your while to stock up on some fitness equipment—it might make things easier for you. I prefer to exercise outside but I do have an indoor stationary bike—that way, if it’s raining, I have no excuse not to exercise.

Reduced Anxiety and Depression
Depression and anxiety can lead to a feeling of isolation. By partaking in aerobic sports, one can choose to join a running club, swimming club, gym or any other sports club. These activities get you out an about and can put you in positions where you HAVE to speak to people.

Aerobic exercise offers a distraction. For an hour or so each day, you can put yourself in a position where you are too busy worrying about the prospect of having to run another two miles before you can stop.

Burning excess fat and toning up can boost anyone’s confidence. Clothes fit better, and you receive compliments from friends, which often is enough to begin to lift the heavy cloud of a mild depression.

Stress Reduction
Do you feel like the whole world is collapsing on top of you? I think everyone does at one stage or another. If you keep positive, it will pass. Aerobic exercise is a great way to keep positive. When you are stressed, it is important to get enough sleep. Exercisers actually go to sleep faster, are more refreshed when they wake up, and have sharper memories. Exercise increases the blood flow to the brain, bringing extra sugar and oxygen, which can help when concentrating. And once again, the little endorphins can make you happier, making you feel like maybe it will all be OK after all.

So, in conclusion, exercise! There are too many benefits that you will be missing out on if you don’t.


About the author:
Ciara Carruthers is an aspiring raw foodist. She has created a website dedicated to raw food at, where you can find her raw food blog, health related articles and raw food recipes.



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date: April 2, 2006