• Terry Walker - NutriBro.

Be Healthy for a Healthy Mind

Updated: Apr 11

These simple lifestyle changes can have a huge effect on mental health and wellbeing.

Most of us understand that moving and exercise is good for healthy brain chemicals, but we also know that eating fruit and not smoking are good for our healthy too. So why don't we do these things? Motivation.

"Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness." - Edward Stanley.

How Much Exercise Do I Need To Do

The 2018 American College of Sports Medicine guidelines and the 2019 American Heart Association recommendations state 150-minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise, that can be made in bouts of 10-minutes. That translates to being fairly out of breath for about 30-minutes a day, 5 days a week. #exerciseguidelines

Another way of looking at this is the approach of Dr Mike Evans on YouTube. Don't sit down, lie down or not move for more than 23.5 hours a day!

Moodie et al., 2020 (1) found that following these guidelines for just 4-weeks had a significant improvement on reducing body fat by 39% (p=0.025). #losebodyfat

Unfortunately Zenko et al., 2019 (2) found that at most 57% of americans were achieving this guideline amount of exercise. That statistic was using general daily activities that count too, I.e. a seriously unfit person walking up some stairs. When accounting only for true exercise, the figure dropped to only 3.4% of americans meeting the requirements.

Does Exercise Make You Happy

Yes, a randomised controlled trial by Khazaee-Pool et al in 2014 (3) had 120 older people and found the group that performed weekly exercise classes for 8-weeks improved their happiness (p=0.001) and that the control group did not change in happiness (p=0.74).

Further to this, Rasmussen et al., 2012 (4) found that lots of exercise when young was found to increase happiness in older adults, even when they weren't currently exercising. Gatab et al., 2012 (5) went on to confirm the above results in students having an 8-week exercise program and significantly decreasing physical symptoms and feelings of depression and impared social functioning. #exercisedepression #exercisementalhealth

What Does Exercise Do To The Brain

Datta, 2018 (6) wrote that the signalling or neurotransmission between neurons is the cause of happiness. A neurotransmitter is released from an axon, and binds to a dendrite, this can have many many affects on the person, but some of which are familiar names in the happiness arena.

Endorphins: the body's painkillers. These are released in response to exercise.

Serotonin: a helpful or social chemical. Released when we work in groups, teams, or do good for others. This can be released during team sports.

Oxytocin: a relationship chemical. Released by spending time with other people and relating to them.

Dopamin: a winning/results based chemical. Often released when we achieve goals. In exercise, this relates to personal best times, and is a shallow pool of happiness.

All of these chemicals released in differing amounts according to the exercise stimulas could be the answer to the happiness feelings attained after exercise, and therefore the decline in depression and mood disorders among people on exercise programs.

A literature review by Mikkelsen et al., 2017 (7) showed that exercise does in fact improve anxiety, stress and depression. It also acts quickly to reduce inflammation and improves immune function. #exerciseimmunesystem #immunesystem #exercisestress #exerciseendorphins

1. Moodie, C. R., Anderson, A. B., Astrachan, Q., & Papadakis, Z. (2020). The Effects of Adhering to ACSM Physical Activity Guidelines on Female University Employees. In International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings (Vol. 2, No. 12, p. 5).

2. Zenko, Z., Willis, E. A., & White, D. A. (2019). Proportion of adults meeting the 2018 physical activity guidelines for Americans according to accelerometers. Frontiers in public health, 7, 135.

3. Khazaee‐Pool, M., Sadeghi, R., Majlessi, F., & Rahimi Foroushani, A. (2015). Effects of physical exercise programme on happiness among older people. Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing, 22(1), 47-57.

4. Rasmussen, M., & Laumann, K. (2014). The role of exercise during adolescence on adult happiness and mood. Leisure Studies, 33(4), 341-356.

5. Gatab, T. A., & Pirhayti, S. (2012). The effect of the selected exercise on male students’ happiness and mental health. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 2702-2705.

6. Datta, A. (2018). CHEMICAL BASIS OF HAPPINESS: A DISCUSSION. European Journal of Social Sciences Studies.

7. Mikkelsen, K., Stojanovska, L., Polenakovic, M., Bosevski, M., & Apostolopoulos, V. (2017). Exercise and mental health. Maturitas, 106, 48-56.


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