Exercise plays a vital role in not only our physical well-being but also our mental well-being. The phrase “runners high” is due to the rush of happy hormones after exercise; endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
Just 20 minutes of light exercise is enough to significantly boost dopamine, in HIIT training however your brain starts to release dopamine after a couple of minutes, making you more focused, and alert and improving your concentration. The more often you train the more dopamine will be released, pushing you to keep challenging yourself & consequently building strength and confidence.
Serotonin is a hormonal antagonist to dopamine and has a variety of functions; amongst other things, it’s involved in the regulation of the circadian rhythm – basically runs your sleep cycle. It also controls our appetite and lowers pain sensitivity. It’s primarily known as a feel-good hormone because its release leads to a feeling of inner satisfaction, which is why you feel so great immediately after a difficult workout.
At moderate training intensities, the gratifying feelings caused by the release of endorphins promote habitual exercise. So, it’s key to find a form of exercise you enjoy and will therefore stay consistent with. It may be a jog around your local park, you could go on long walks with a friend, try a dance class, a HIIT class, yoga, weight training, bike ride…the possibilities are endless!
Gym classes like F45 are a great way to form bonds with other like-minded people too, and the community spirit is another mood booster to add to the post-workout buzz.
Short and intense exercise also reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol, even in the long run. Your resilience concerning stress increases, whether the stress is physical or mental.
Too much exercising can also have an opposite effect and turn up your cortisol level, your body views overtraining as negative stress. So always listen to your body. 30+ minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week is perfect, with at least one or two rest days where you could focus on stretching and restorative yoga.
Every time you feel a sense of achievement after a workout, your self-confidence will grow and this, in turn, pushes you to achieve even more. In the long run, you will not only get fitter and more athletic, but also more confident, satisfied, optimistic, powerful, and happier!
Written by Emily Outterside Head Trainer, F45 Peckham Rye (www.f45training.co.uk/peckhamrye)