According to sports psychologists, that is the way you achieve the utmost mood boost through your training


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IIt’s no secret that exercise brings many benefits. Sure, making time for a sweat session can improve your physical health, but it can also do wonders for your mind and, in turn, your mood.

Although we know that exercise three to five times a week ideal for maintaining health and achieving optimal physical benefits, we wondered how long or how hard it would take to exercise to significantly improve mood. Knowing we’re not alone with this question, we spoke to two sports psychologists to shed some light on the intersection between fitness and mental health.

Why Does Exercise Boost Your Mood?

Research shows that exercise has a huge impact on mood, particularly because it’s directly correlated to a surge in dopamine (aka the “happy hormone”). according to a 2021 systematic review of studies on this effect published in brain science, researchers concluded that physical activity, like prescriptions, should be a recommended action to improve mental health. The effect can be so strong.

Exercise doesn’t just increase dopamine levels, however. According to sports and performance psychologist Isaac Zur, PhD, CMPC, MHC, from Mental Performance Counseling in New YorkExercise also promotes increased levels of the mood-enhancing neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin.

dr Zur points out that not only are some brain chemicals boosted, but some low-key forms of exercise can also lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. (Think yoga, gentle walks.) However, it’s important to note that some research suggests that intense physical activity, where a person uses more than 60 percent of their maximum heart rate, can temporarily increase cortisol levels, as it is associated with adrenaline, the chemical that makes us feel ready for any physical feat. For this reason, some therapists recommend that patients with a history of anxiety be cautious about high-intensity exercise.

Beyond the physiological effects of exercise, Dr. That physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, which in turn can increase cognitive function. It also simply improves self-esteem “due to the higher sense of self-actualization,” he says.

All of these things combine to provide an almost instant mood boost after a workout.

How long do you need to exercise to improve your mood?

Because not everyone has the same physiological makeup, fitness level, or preferred type of exercise, according to Dr. It’s too difficult to give a general recipe for how much exercise it takes to get that mood boost. But it will probably take you half an hour or more to see a difference. “Generally, a moderate-intensity workout that lasts for a long time at least 30 minutes can effectively increase endorphin release and improve mood,” he says.

4 ways to get the maximum mood boost from your workout

Opt for workouts that prioritize boosts of energy

Remember, the key to a mood-boosting workout is to opt for at least a moderate intensity. This can be jogging, a dance cardio class or a relaxed bike ride.

“Altering between high-intensity exercise and short periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise (such as in a HIIT class) is also a great booster,” says an exercise psychology and performance consultant Brenley Shapiro, MSW, RSW, RPFounder and President of Heads up high performance. “Hockey is another great example of a team sport – players get a big burst of energy and intensity for their shift that lasts about 35 to 40 seconds, followed by a rest period on the bench…until the next shift.”

By varying exercise intensities, Shapiro says you can increase your heart rate appropriately while maintaining a longer performance time, which in turn allows you to experience all the mood benefits.

If ice hockey isn’t your style, you can take a bootcamp-style course barrys will cover you.

Train with other people

“Exercising with friends or in a group is a great mood booster, whether it’s in a group exercise class, playing a team sport, working out with a friend, or just taking someone for a walk,” says Shapiro. “We know that human-social connection is a foundation for human motivation, and that’s where it provides a big boost.”

As an added bonus, Shapiro points out that working with friends also contributes to accountability and social support, which can make reaching your health and wellness goals seem more attainable. If you don’t already have fitness-focused friends, join a local running club or book a group training class like Orangetheory.

Choose an excellent playlist and turn up the volume

Music is known to have a mood-enhancing effect. “Creating a playlist of your favorite pump-up songs can be a great mood booster,” says Shapiro. “We know that Music alone activates the pleasure centers of the brain (actually, it’s the same pleasure centers that sex activates) – what a great nudge to combine with the existing [neurotransmitter boost] sole training.”

Make time for more mindful practices

If you want to use your workout as a relaxing retreat from your stressful everyday life, make time for more soothing workouts. “Mindfulness-based practices can help maximize these feel-good chemicals and maintain them for longer periods of time,” Shapiro says, pointing out that examples include yoga, tai chi, and even meditation. “These types of exercises help calm the body and clear the mind, which reduces cortisol — the stress chemical — in the body. This contributes to deeper relaxation and may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.”

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