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17 May 2010

Exercise: a Prozac for life?

Whether you fear that you might be depressed or just feel unhappy, lacking in motivation and vitality, exercise can help you.

Whether you fear that you might be depressed or you just feel unhappy, lacking in motivation and vitality, exercise can help you.

  • Exercise may act as a temporary diversion to daily stresses.
  • Exercise provides an opportunity for social interaction that may otherwise be lacking in an individual’s life.
  • Exercise provides an opportunity for self-mastery. Increasing fitness or improving body composition and other health parameters may improve an individual’s self-esteem.
  • Increased core temperature during exercise may lead to a reduced muscle tension or alterations to brain neurotransmitters.
  • Mood improvements may occur due to the increased secretion of endogenous (internal) opiates e.g. endorphins
  • Psychological changes may occur due to alterations in norepinephrine, dopamine, or serotonin, which are all hormones which can affect mood and level of anxiety.

How much is enough?
On a more practical level, how much exercise should you do to derive the optimal psychological effects and what should you do?

  • Make it something you enjoy; an activity that doesn’t require mastery, otherwise you could be put off because:
  • it is too much of an effort to
  • you feel like a failure if you can’t master it successfully.

 
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