Exercise more for better mental health

Exercise isn’t just good for your body; it also has incredible benefits for your mind as well.

Specifically, exercise is a crucial component in your overall mood and sense of well-being.

Recently, researchers at the University of California discovered a new connection between exercise and mental health. This opens up the doors to new research to treat even the most-extreme cases of cognitive diseases such as depression.

Using imaging studies on the brain, researchers discovered that exercise directly increases the levels of two neurotransmitters, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. These are responsible for chemical messaging within the brain.

Normal, everyday stressors in your life cause these levels of neurotransmitters to drop. This can lead to a sense of sadness and a drop in your mood.

In extreme cases of those with clinical depression, levels of glutamate and GABA are consistently lower than normal levels.

As the study’s lead author wrote …

"Major depressive disorder is often characterized by depleted glutamate and GABA, which return to normal when mental health is restored," said Richard Maddock, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

"Our study shows that exercise activates the metabolic pathway that replenishes these neurotransmitters."

One of the proposed theories by scientists of how this happens is that the brain uses sugar and other carbohydrates during exercises. And one of the ways the brain is using this fuel is to create more neurotransmitters.

"From a metabolic standpoint, vigorous exercise is the most demanding activity the brain encounters, much more intense than calculus or chess, but nobody knows what happens with all that energy," Maddock said.

"Apparently, one of the things it’s doing is making more neurotransmitters."

What this means is a sedentary lifestyle is not only harmful physically, but also mentally.

Exercise is absolutely crucial for you and your health.

Making an effort to become more active in your daily life is a positive habit for you in just about every way.

We would love to hear all the ways you use to live an active lifestyle by leaving a comment in the comments section below!

Happy and healthy investing,

Brad Hoppmann

Your thoughts on “Exercise more for better mental health”

  1. I do exercise whenever I can.
    I also believe exercise is good for the mind and body, but I feel we shouldn’t exagerate, otherwise we enter in the field of injuries, no matter what age you have.
    I’m 56 and I hope to go on doing marathon more 10 years.

  2. I do several high intensity workouts per week and some walking workouts and yoga between. Since I care for a large number of cats, I stay relatively active. I am trying to spread some of this out more so that I am not sitting for long periods, but this is a work in progress.

  3. It occurred to me a long time ago, after I found myself unable to keep up my regular running for health reasons, that there must be SOME level of activity I could maintain to good effect. That level turned out to be a daily dose of stair climbing, and, more lately, hill walking. While my exertion level has gone down somewhat as a result of this, it has been replaced by a regular, if less strenuous level, of activity that I feel has maintained both my physical and mental health. Too often people give up when finding they cannot maintain the level of activity of their younger self, believing anything less than all out exertion is not beneficial. This of course is nonsense, but only if one becomes as dedicated to the new level of activity as the old. While this may seem straightforward enough it is to me astonishing how few people make the transition to a lower, but routine, level of activity. Come on, folks, daily walks up flights of stairs and steep hills is not only “better than nothing,” but truly as life changing as daily running!

  4. As a physician, I welcome this news on the mental health benefits of exercise. It confirms what I have experienced myself for 40 years. I exercise more for my mental health than for my physical health. When I don’t get a chance to exercise at least 2-3 times a week, I know my life is out of control and I need to do a better job of prioritizing what is important. I have found that I don’t need to run marathons to achieve this mental health benefit. All it takes is 2-3 times per week of aerobic exercise sufficient to raise my heart rate for 30-60 minutes.

  5. I exercise every day. Most days a workout in the morning and evening. I believe it is one of the best things you can do. So many benefits.

  6. After my heart attack 15 years ago, I started walking, then went into jogging, then went into stretch exercises, then push ups, and then weights. Now I exercise 6 days a week for about 1.5 hours each day. MWF I do stretch, squats, pushups, and 40 minutes on the tread mill. TTHS I do stretch, squats, leg lifts, bench, chest, arms, curls. This keeps me strong, flexible, and with the 40 minutes on the tread mill, I get plenty of endurance. This allows me to play with my grandchildren until they get tired!! I am going on 72 and much younger folk can’t keep up with me. When I used to work, I would get up at 4:00 AM to get my exercises before the workday started knowing that once life comes at you, it is hard to keep up with exercises. Now that I am retired, I get up around 6:30 AM, say my prayers fro the day, and perform my exercises religiously before I do anything else . By the way, I haven’t gained any weight in 20 years because I don’t loosen my belt or buy larger clothes. I just make sure If I gained 2 or 3 pounds, I refrain from eating too much and thus lose the extra weight. You need to try it out. It works. If you buy larger size clothes, you have locked in the weight gain!!

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Brad Hoppmann originally grew up in Florida, but has lived in Baltimore, Charlotte and New York as well throughout his career. Always an athlete, he played varsity football and water polo at the University of Florida and received All-SEC/SCC honors.