In the ever changing world of fitness and exercise, group training has managed to retain a loyal legion of followers. There is a growing evidence that the structured workouts in boot camps will keep you lean and healthy. Research also shows that regular exercise sessions also boost the mood and help fight stress and depression. There is a scientific basis behind the psychological benefits of exercise.
The Connection Between Exercise and Mood
Fromy my experience, when you join group training and complete at least two weeks worth of exercise sessions you begin to feel a gradual lightening of your mind along with your body. My mood swings, bouts of depression and erratic bursts of depression which used to plague me gradually began to disappear. This has caused me to wonder about the connection between exercise and good mood spells! Well it turns out there is a hormonal reaction triggered by exercise which results in the promotion of your well being after engaging in physical activity.
You’d be surprised how deep the connection between exercise and happiness and how evolution has shaped our mind to react to physical activity. I was really fascinated by this next presentation and I highly suggest watching this lecture of David Raichlen where he speaks about this connection.
Jump to minute 9 to skip all the boring intro.
After a solid exercise session the brain releases endorphins, serotonin, adrenaline and dopamine. These are all positive hormones which result in a peaceful and satisfied state of mind. This is why you will see lots of happy faces once you walk into a bootcamp, I know I did. Once you join a bootcamp you will feel a sense of accomplishment after each session and this will automatically put a smile on your face.
How Does Exercising Fights Depression?
Clinical depression is a classified mental aberration which has lots of side effects. That’s why today many psychiatrists prescribe proper workouts with an exercise group as a part of therapy for obsessive depressed patients. In people who are suffering from mild depression exercising can be a useful deterrent, 20 minutes of structured workouts are sure to make depressed people feel better. In fact, studies have shown that exercise succeeds even where medication has failed in terms of treatment of depression, sadly exercising is not so profitable for the medicine industry so they still prescribe you on drugs before they tell you to exercise.
Here’s the difference of a depressed mind vs. the same mind after 20 minutes of low level activity such as jogging, amazing huh!?
How Aerobics Lift Your Mood
I really love Group training sessions because they have a healthy dose of cardiovascular workouts and aerobic exercise. High intensity aerobic dancing, speed biking, rowing or swimming will stimulate the production of endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin.
As you know cardio is also great for depleting glycogen stores and burning fat. Research indicates that people who feel confident about themselves and their bodies are 70% less prone to depression and anxiety. As you notice your body becoming leaner and firmer, your mood improves and you will be happier. I hope that by now after watching the lecture and reading this post you start realizing the deep connection between the body and mind.
In my line of work I tend to meet many people, some of them exercise and some of them don’t. What I always notice though is that those who are more active usually tend to be happier, this only reinforced my belief about the psychological connection between exercise and happiness.
How Yoga Helps to Improve Quality of Life?
I’m not a big fan of yoga, I guess that’s simply because I’m a man and men usually don’t like these kind of activities (to say the least). We usually prefer more testosterone pumping activities such as weight lifting or vertical jump training although there are exceptions (see image).
Women on the other hand don’t find the above activities as attractive and tend to gravitate more towards spiritual mind & body activities such as yoga.
So because of the difference between the two genders I decided to dedicate a paragraph for the fair sex, plus my feminist wife forced me to :).
Many of the fitness groups that exist today offer special classes on Power Yoga. Now yoga is a subject which has a deep spiritual connection. Power yoga combines the benefits of stretching and breathing exercises with mild weight training. Women who start practicing yoga will feel energized and happy because the exercises stimulate the positive hormones of their body and make them feel lighter. Research has shown that yoga is helpful for treating depression and unhappiness even in male participants (not sure this applies to me though).