Exercise - The Perfect Mood Enhancer

Author: Vanessa Auditore | 11 Sep 2011

No more excuses about not being in the mood for movement check out these tips to get your groove on.

Exercise offers physical benefits that extend over multiple body systems.

Some of the benefits of exercise are caused by naturally occurring opiates called endorphins (similar effect to morphine), which is triggered by exercise. It is thought that endorphins may be triggered as a shock response to the effect of the exercise on the body.

Simply put exercise produces as a stress coping response the feel good factor that we get when we move in a way that challenges the body over and above day to day basic movements

Yoga Pose

These studies have shown that the brains frontal lobe and hippocampus (the functions of Emotions, Consolidation of New Memories, Navigation and Special Orientation) receives a boost with exercise, whilst the scientists are still debating exactly why this occurs, findings are that exercise increases neurotransmitters (brains messengers) associated with elevated mood in the brain like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, similar to the principal of anti depressant medications

Exercise reduces the risk of depression and neurodegenerative diseases such as age related cognitive decline

Simply put exercise produces as a stress coping response the feel good factor that we get when we move in a way that challenges the body over and above day to day basic movements

Some exercise ideas to create and support different mood effects

Stressed – feeling bent out of shape and overwhelmed by your job, friend, relationship then the ideal workout for you will begin with some form of high intensity exercise like skipping, a random program on the cross trainer or a quick dash around the block, something that you don’t need to think about and give yourself a chance to unwind before settling down into a relaxation practice like stretching, foam roller or yoga to bend you into a more Zen like space.

Now with a more Mindful approach you can address the issue causing the stress and get on with your day

Sad/Depressed – Often it’s difficult to even consider exercise when you’re feeling sad and or depressed and first it’s important to identify what the emotion is before deciding what type of exercise will help to shift that dark cloud.

Sadness ( Ie – loss of job, loved one etc as in grief) requires a gentler approach in that moment so give yourself permission to be gentle, walk and talk is always good so grab a friend and meander through a scenic pathway, stopping to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, breathing exercises as in pranayama , moderate weight training session for a sense of grounding , gentle flowing yoga, swimming all make for a nurturing embrace

Depression often responds well to vigorous physical exercise as emotionally speaking depression can be a serious of deeply suppressed emotional experiences ( as well as serotonin imbalance) and the vigorous activity like a run, a high intensity spin class, zumba / dancing for fun, dynamic javascript:nicTemp();yoga, boxing is great too to feel vibrant and empowered.

“Time of the Month” – This is what I’d call a complex emotional experience due to physical as well as chemical changes occurring in the body, exercise is the last thing you want to do, the couch and the chocolate are much more enticing right… wrong gentle exercise that requires a medium to light expenditure of energy will assist with the cramping, bloating and general mood of ho hum so get out there grab a friend and take a stroll followed by a gentle stretch or if your feeling a little more sociable flowing yoga practice like YIN or restorative yoga even a gentle bodyweight or weights circuit session just avoid the deep squats and heavy leg work for this week.

Energetic – Okay lets go pump up the volume and direct that energy into a serious TRX session or spin if that’s your thing, bounce around the boxing ring like Mohammad Ali or heavy weights session always using functional training methods and incorporating as many body parts as possible. Run the sand dunes at the beach, spike the ball over the beach volley ball net, swim like Thorpey.

Remembering a good cool down and stretch to minimise the muscle soreness and soak up the natural high of your brain chemistry cocktail

Tired – walk your tired butt around the block just once if you feel ok go again and repeat until desired affect is achieved, yoga breath work and meditation are all great pick me ups without creating more stress, swimming

pink boxing glovesAngry e.g. you just had a fight with someone or an issue during the day – Today you just want to trash the life out of someone or something so better that it isn’t yourself, mindless training when you’re angry can lead to injury so do something vigorous like a run, spin class, beat the stuffing out of the boxing bag… not the person holding the pads, kick the bag, run the stairs general huff and puff is what’s required to let off the pressure cooker a little.

Then when you’ve cooled down a little organise your thoughts with a structured program like weights, yoga, circuit and finish with a lovely cool down and recentering exercise like meditation, relaxation

Cranky/Irritable – generally grumpy – see angry or stressed

Happy – Exercise is easy here and usually more energy is available so this is the time to try something new, like a boxing class, spin, zumba, that tough circuit or weights sessions go for it really push yourself here as you will create a neural pathway that links happiness and high achievement during exercise which will make you want to do more of it because it feels SOOOO GOOD!

Blah” – just flat and lousy, also known as Thursdayitis. This could go either way… suggest you just begin what ever you enjoy the most and continue for 20 mins if you want to stop, then stop relax with some stretching or yoga and meditation if not take it up a few notches and before you know it you’ll be really enjoying that exercise induced high.

Hung over – your liver is really struggling today so slow controlled movements like yoga with twists and holds to flush the liver, cardio and plenty of water, save the heavy weights, runs & boxing for another day. A walk or swim is also another great pick me up rather than stressing your body further with a heavy workout

Having a Fat Day/Self-esteem low – this is an important day to do what you love, something that is easy for you and known rather than taking on the challenge of something new that may trigger more feelings of “ I can’t, I’m not good enough” etc and get the whole mental story kicked into overdrive - save the new for when you’re feeling a little sparkier the objective here is to shift your emotional state through doing something that brings you happiness and a sense of fun might be splashing about in the puddles as you’re walking along the beach, walk and talk with a friend, yoga, breath work, weights session, ride a bike in the fresh air or plugged into your most inspiring tunes whilst you’re on the bike or cross trainer at the gym

Remember exercise IS NOT a punishment so treat it with a sense of choice and creativity by matching your training to your mood.

Whether you run a half marathon or meditate like a Zen monk what ever you choose is a at least you know you gave it a go which is important starting point for your next session, knowing you went and did your best is important create a healthy positive relationship with exercise that can be tailored to suit you everyday.

Vanessa Auditore is a Human Behaviour & Wellbeing Specialist and Owner / Director of Success HQ .Vanessa holds qualifications in Bach Behavioural Science & Bach Communication and Media - current study, Counselling (QMACA), Transformational Life Coach (Dip), Master Personal Trainer (Cert1V)