Hello, hello! This is coming to you straight from a….published writer! I mean, besides on this blog 🙂
I wrote an article for FIU News. It was really fun and I’m so happy I got the opportunity to write it. You can check out the edited version here, or you can check out my original version here…..
Exercise and Mental Health
The Queen of Harvard, Elle Woods, had it right all along: Exercise makes you happy! Then why does exercising sometimes make you feel like Voldemort when his soul split into seven pieces? I mean, Voldemort never even had to run on a treadmill! The kids of Hogwarts never had to exercise and they did alright, except for all the battles and the school gossip and the dealing with three headed dog monsters…but I digress.
Why does it have to be exercise that makes us feel good? Why can’t it be 48-hour marathons of Antique Roadshow, or a Bazillion Creamsicles, or just sitting on a couch staring into space? You telling me that this sleek biological machine I’ve been gifted with requires maintenance? OK but if we’re going, we’re getting smoothies.
We know that exercise makes you happy because…science. There are people that get paid to study this scientific fact, which sounds like an amazing life choice and something I need to look into right now. These people make people do whatever they want and they enjoy it. Lift that weight! Run over there! Now run over there! (Side note: the author is a physical therapy student, so I did in fact, make this life choice.)
So, let’s briefly run (see what I did there) through some of the greatest impacts of regular exercise:
Exercise comes with better chemistry than Kate and Leo and it doesn’t require a shipwreck.
This is posing-naked-for-a-hand-drawn-portrait chemistry.
One study showed that people who exercised vigorously on a stationary bike showed higher levels of GABA and glutamate in the brain.1 These two neurotransmitters help brain cells communicate with each other to regulate physical and emotional health.
Another study showed that exercise helped increase the levels of BDNF in mice that chose to run on a wheel over 30 days. BDNF is associated with “cognitive improvement and the alleviation of depression and anxiety.”2 Oh my paws, the thought of these little anxious mice going out for a nice long job to blow off some steam is giving me so much life I might trot out a few miles myself!
And, of course, exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.3
- Feel confident
If you ever look around the WRC-MMC and think, “This place needs more mirrors!” you know that you’ve got confidence.
One study showed a positive correlation between frequent heavy resistance training and global self esteem in a group of women.4
Another study demonstrated that increased physical activity influenced self esteem both directly and indirectly among a sample of adult university staff members.5
To begin unlocking the benefit of improved confidence, I recommend trying one of the many free group fitness classes offered at the WRC-MMC (great fitness classes).
- Improved mental health
Look, Inside Out (copyright Disney-Pixar) taught us that we’ve got all these emotions rattling around in our brains, alternately supporting, scheming, and screaming at each other to control our every move, and we really can’t make heads or tails of it. Or was that not the point of the movie? My daily life is filled with enough beautiful joys and desperate cries for help that a couple minutes in the gym is worth it to even out all these kinks.
A meta-analysis (a study that examines other studies) showed that in eleven studies, exercise was positively correlated with “a significant large overall antidepressant effect”.6
As if that’s not good enough, a cross-sectional study of 1.2 million individuals showed that those who exercised had “1.49 fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise”.7 I don’t know about you, but I could use an extra day and a half every month of peace, love, and cafecitos, but maybe that’s just me.
Plus, this same study showed that all the exercise types of these 1.2 million individuals were associated with a lower mental health burden overall! As anyone who has tried to even order pizza toppings for two knows, getting 1.2 million people to agree on anything is better proof than the DNA test that proved Lizzo is 100% that….ya know.
So if you too want to be infinitely happier and live forever (results not guaranteed), just send me 5 easy payments of $999.99 plus your best homemade brownies. Orrr, you can just get your beautiful little self to the gym to do all the squats, presses, and crunches your heart desires.
If you’re an FIU student, you really must come and check out the WRC- MMC. It’s a brand new facility that is only rivaled by Kris Jenner’s house in sheer opulence and grandeur, plus you’ll leave feeling better than me after eating brownies.
Check out FIU gym for group exercise classes, personal training, and of course, working out.
Katie Baumez is a Doctor of Physical Therapy student at FIU and personal trainer at FIU Wellness and Recreation Center. Come say hi at the gym! Or, check out her physical therapy website ptparty.co & @ptptpartyparty, and at http://www.katiebaumez.com/