Your Brain on Exercise. Get Moving! Activate those Happy Chemicals!

How Physical Activity helps Alleviate Depressed Mood and Fatigue.

Michelle Keir-Sanderson

2/12/20243 min read

It's a fact. Your brain goes wild on exercise. All those 'feel good' brain chemicals get activated when you get moving. Even moderate, regular physical activity sparks your neurotransmitters and helps relieve stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Have you ever heard of the 'Runners high' or noticed how your feel brighter after you go for a 5 minute walk?

Exercise - It Doesn't Mean Gym Membership - Just Get Physical!

Some people cringe when they hear the word ‘exercise’, but exercise doesn’t have to mean becoming an athlete or needing to sign up for a gym membership. Just go for a walk, mop floors, bounce on a trampoline, jump rope, do push-ups, vacuum, clean windows, jog on the spot, have sex, swim, bike ride, walk up and down your hallway shadow boxing…. do anything that gets you moving and your heart pumping.

It also doesn't mean you have to have significant time committed. Get moving in small increments. The less time commitment - the more likely you will commit to it, and the more progress you will make. So, jog on the spot for 1 minute in the morning. Do a 4 minute online cardio workout in your lunch break. Vigorously vacuum or mop the floor in the evening. Think about ways you can incorporate some physical movement in your days. Change it up. It doesn't have to be the same thing!

Motivational Slump

A lack of exercise is usually accompanied by a lack of motivation. That ominous motivational slump that comes with depressed mood or feeling overwhelmed or fatigued can be reduced by pushing through - even just a little - and getting your body moving.

So, if you’re finding it hard to shift past that ‘wall’, as mentioned in the previous section, just commit to do any physical activity for a short (but regular) amount of time - 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes.... the choice is yours. Not a big commitment …easy to maintain! But commit to this every day.

Gradually increase it to twice a day or extend the minutes…or both. When time’s up and you feel like continuing …DO IT! That’s what the aim is - to overcome that invisible barrier called ‘I can’t be bothered’, aka ‘I'll do it later’ and ‘what’s the point’. It all matters - it IS still progress!

Who Cares What It Is …. Just Move!

It really doesn’t matter what activity you choose to do. Your body doesn't care or know what type of physical activity you are engaging in. It just registers that your heart is pumping, your blood is flowing, your muscles are working and so on. So, if it’s Pilates, or a gym workout, or dancing, or washing windows …. it's all beneficial. It all has the same impact - just varies from how fast you move and how long you do it.

So pick something and keep going until you have built up a natural routine that lasts longer and is regularly implanted in your week. Remember, it doesn’t have to be the same exercise or movement every time either… go for a brisk walk one day, and vigorously vacuum the next.

Ideas To Get Moving

  • Walk with a friend.

  • Dance

  • Clean your room.

  • Boxing

  • Clean your windows.

  • Do 10 push-ups.

  • Vacuum.

  • Mop the floor.

  • Cardio workout.

  • Tennis.

  • Trampolining.

  • Scrub your shower.

  • Run with your dog.

  • Skip rope.

  • Mow the lawn.

  • Basketball.

  • Kick a footy.

  • Walk up & down stairs.

  • Jump on the spot.

  • Ride a bike.

  • Chase your kids.

  • Burpees.

  • Wash your car.

  • Do 10 handstands.

There are some great motivational personal trainers on YouTube … why not get started! Short, low or high impact videos can help shift you through that wall preventing you from starting. They can be brief, fun and motivating!