“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.  Happy people don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Legally Blond

Life is full of peaks and valleys; no matter how people appear on the outside, everyone has a bad day once in a while.  We can control our attitude or reactions, but as much as we try we can’t control everything.  In all likelihood you’ve experienced loss, or will in the future. Someone has or might break your heart. You will try something and fail at it, and at some point you may even embarrass yourself. 

I am a firm believer in positive thinking and constantly working to alter my mind-set to see a situation in a more positive way.  Take the list above and try to see the silver lining in each situation – i.e. Experiencing loss is hard, at times it may feel like your world is ending, but seeing the positive in it may help the healing process.  Ask yourself WHY this loss is so profound, WHAT was it about that person that impacted you so deeply, and WHAT have you learned from them? Try celebrating the life instead of grieving the loss.  Focus your energy on recalling the memories, the achievements, and the lessons you gleaned from having had that person.  Be grateful for the years that you had and don’t let the years you won’t cloud your ability to reminisce.  The silver lining is there to be discovered, not stumbled upon by accident.

Now before you close your computer and run away saying, “Thanks for ruining my omelet and mocha this morning,” hear me out.  We all go through hard times, and fitness can be used as a tool to remedy you.  Improved self-esteem is a psychological benefit of regular exercise.  When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins.  When endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain it can reduce your perception of pain.  Have you ever heard the term ‘Runner’s High’?  Endorphins are the cause of that high. 

According to Web MD, “Endorphins act as analgesics,” which mean they diminish the perception of pain. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.

Exercise is often an underused treatment for mild to moderate depression.  Below is a list of additional benefits from regular exercise.

Regular exercise has been proven to:

• Reduce stress

• Ward off anxiety and feelings of depression

• Boost self-esteem

• Improve sleep

Exercise also has these added health benefits:

• Strengthens your heart

• Increases energy levels

• Lowers blood pressure

• Improves muscle tone and strength

• Strengthens and builds bones

• Helps reduce body fat

• Makes you look fit and healthy

We often discuss the physical benefits of exercise rather than the psychological ones. The truth of the matter is they are connected. The psychological benefits can have great effect on your mood, but also on your physical body.  So find something you love or something you just don’t hate, and move your body. Take a yoga class, start weight-lifting, find a group training class, or turn up the radio and DANCE!  It may not solve all of your problems, but I promise you it can’t hurt! 

Yours in Health,

Ben