Movement is medicine. How to unleash your “happy hormones.”

Movement is one of the most effective ways to ease sadness, stress, or a generally low mood.

Prioritizing movement becomes even more important in winter, when it’s easy to put-off exercise in favor of the couch. But if you make an effort to bundle up, get outside and get moving, you will flood your brain with precious endorphins — nature’s “happy hormones.”

When we are filled with tension, exercising can be one of the last things we feel like doing. But our bodies know better.

Just a few minutes of movement can help your body and mind relax.  And movement is one of the most effective techniques we can use to feel better, NOW. 

Better yet,  you don’t need an intense bootcamp-style workout or hours in the gym to access the feel-good hormone response.  A brisk walk works just as well to get the heart rate up and increase oxygen uptake and blood flow to the brain.

For the more ambitious, regular exercise such as group classes or cycling have been proven to reduce depression because they increase the brain protein BDNF that helps nerve fibers grow.

Meditative movement is also extremely effective in reducing depressive symptoms.  Examples such as Qigong,  tai chi and yoga can change your posture, breathing and therefore change your brain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits, too.  It can help you:

  • Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
  • Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others.
  • Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy.

How will you move?  The key is to find something you LOVE.  Whether it’s swimming or soccer, yoga or tai chi, movement can quite literally rewire your brain for less stress, greater happiness, and success.