Stress Awareness Month Guest Blog: Move and Feel Happy

As part of our Stress Awareness Month we are getting top stress tips from lots of different viewpoints. Today its Tracy Griffen, a professional personal trainer, on how exercise can lift your mood and help with stress…

“Exercise makes you feel happy. It’s proven and it’s true. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest ways to boost your mood. Have you ever been for a walk up a big hill and remember the feeling when you got to the top? Elation? Exhaustion? Satisfaction?
When you exercise, various feel good neurotransmitters are pinged around your brain. It’s a similar reaction to eating lots of chocolate – the endorphins, including serotonin and dopamine (the same stuff that’s in morphine) are the ‘pleasure principle’.

These feel good neurotransmitters are released after undertaking cardiovascular exercise, such as running. So why is exercise not more addictive? Some would argue it is, and I sure you will know someone who has been hooked on exercise. However the flip side of the coin is that you need to exert a certain amount of effort, and even go through a certain amount of pain, for these neurotransmitters to be released.

Whatever the reason for the release of these neurotransmitters, it has been shown that physically active people recover from mild depression more quickly. In fact I have found that if someone is feeling blue, getting them outside for a long brisk walk or jog really helps turn their mood around. I feel this is a combination of both the body’s reaction to exercise and also the change of scenery. In Edinburgh it’s easy to find some green space, even in the most built up areas, and just being outside and getting extra oxygen moving around the body creates a noticeable shift in mood.

Add to this, I find creativity is heightened by a good bout of cardio exercise. If I’m ever stuck on writing an article, I put it aside until I’ve been out for a bike ride. If you’d like to read an excellent book relating to exercise and creativity, try the best-selling Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s excellent memoir ‘Things That I Talk About When I Talk About Running’, where he links the concentration required for his work as a prolific novelist, and his daily hour long runs.

Whatever way you look at it, pulse-raising exercise in any form is something that your body benefits from on both a physical and emotional level. So if you’re waiting for inspiration, wait no more!”

Do you agree with Tracy? Can fitness help combat stress and anxiety?

Tracy Griffen is a Leith-based Personal Trainer, her Healthy Living Yearbook is available from PureSpa Ocean Terminal and Lothian Road. Follow Tracy on Twitter @tracygriffen or Facebook griffenfitness or visit http://www.griffenfitness.com/

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