Have you noticed that a good workout makes you feel happier for the rest of the day? The feel-good effect of exercise is not solely the result of being glad it’s over. Exercise works on a biological level to boost your mood. It does this by creating endorphins while you workout.
Endorphins are a group of peptides. Peptides are smaller versions of proteins. These delightful peptides are produced by your pituitary gland and central nervous system while you exercise. They make you happy because they act on the opiate receptors in your brain. When they act, you experience an increase in feelings of pleasure and well-being. They also help you cope with pain and stress well after your workout is complete.
If endorphins weren’t enough, there’s also dopamine. When you complete an exercise session (or accomplish any goal) a mood-boosting neurotransmitter called dopamine is released. Have you ever tracked a workout plan using an app or (even better) a pen and paper with gold star stickers? The soaring feeling of accomplishment and self-confidence when you give yourself a gold star is the result of dopamine.
Endorphins are created during the exercise session, and dopamine is released at the end or whenever an exercise goal is reached. It’s an intoxicating one-two punch of happiness. Next time you are feeling a dip in your mood try exercising and see if it helps. Talk to your trainer about quick and effective workouts to boost your mood. There are also great at-home workouts in the Hyatt Training app that you have access to as part of your membership.
It was once unclear whether exercise caused endorphins or if happy people just move more. A recent peer-reviewed study by Karmel Choi at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has established that exercise causes elevated moods. This study also showed that exercise was able to independently reduce the risk for depression.
As we all cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, political and racial tension, increased social isolation and more, it is critical that we carefully evaluate our mental wellbeing. Doctors often include exercise as part of a prevention and/or treatment plan for depression and anxiety. Now more than ever, we can utilize exercise as a tool to help give us a sense of control over our mood. When the body is in order, the mind follows suit.
Dolan, Paul & Kavetsos, Georgios & Vlaev, Ivo. (2013). The Happiness Workout. Social Indicators Research. 119. 1363-1377. 10.1007/s11205-013-0543-0.
Heijnen S, Hommel B, Kibele A, Colzato LS. Neuromodulation of Aerobic Exercise-A Review. Front Psychol. 2016;6:1890. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01890
JAMA Psychiatry Strengthen your mood with weight training October, 2018 https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/strengthen-your-mood-with-weight-training
Karmel Choi JAMA Psychiatry Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/more-evidence-that-exercise-can-boost-mood
What Are Endorphines https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-endorphins-5025072 By Arlin Cuncic December 14, 2020
Author Amy Hall is in the internship program at Hyatt Training. She is an RYT 500 certified yoga teacher and working towards her ACE personal training certification. Her passion is helping people create a joyful relationship with exercise and movement. Amy is an Oregon native and outdoor enthusiast. Learn more about Amy, or get in touch with her by emailing us at Go@HyattTraining.com.
Hyatt Training is a team of certified, enthusiastic and innovative personal trainers in Portland, Oregon. To read more fitness related posts like this one, follow this link.