Whilst a hiit class or yoga session can improve your temper as well as your body, a recent study has shown that moderate exercise, such as jogging for 30 minutes can alleviate pain and boost your mood. Endocannabinoids, a class of brain chemicals, were found to increase when cycling, walking on an incline, hiking and jogging but not when walking leisurely or running at a high intensity. Described as the ‘don’t worry be happy’ chemical it regulates the stress responses in the amygdala and pre frontal cortex, areas of the brain which are rich in receptors for the endocannabinoids. When these endo molecules lock into receptors, they reduce anxiety and induce a state of contentment. They can also increase dopamine in the brain’s rewards system which further fuels feelings of optimism, whereas low levels are linked to anxiety and loneliness.
At a time when we can start to suffer more from anxiety finding ways to influence this is ever more important. Interestingly they have also been found to be linked to social interaction, increasing the pleasure you derive from being around other people and reducing any worries you have about mixing with others. Professor Laurie Santos, from the Happiness Lab, has also stated “Social connection is a necessary condition for high happiness” and social interaction has been found to be one of the key 5 activities (alongside nutrition, exercise, stress management and circadian rhythms) to underpin health and longevity. So after a tough time of not being allowed to mix, jogging with friends, brisk walking (not strolling) with loved ones and finding an outdoor exercise group can benefit you body and soul.
For news of my outdoor circuit groups (restarting 14 April) see here and if you’d like to take part in my free session on 19 April see Sessions or contact me