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How Exercise Can Make You Happy

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I have many more reasons for working out than just to lose weight; it is a critical for treating my anxiety, depression, and insomnia... it also boosts my mood and overall wellness. This article explores why:

"Over time, chronic stress can erode connections between neurons, leading to a communication breakdown in brain cells. That may partly explain why depressed and anxious people get locked into a negative mind-set. "They lose flexibility and have trouble thinking their way out of a mental rut," Dr. Ratey says."

"Exercise triggers a surge of hormonal changes. Expose yourself to this 'stress' enough and your body builds up immunity to it. Eventually, it will get better at handling the rest of life's stressors," says clinical psychologist Jasper Smits, Ph.D., coauthor of Exercise for Mood and Anxiety. But stay sedentary and your body can become more sensitive to stress, so even minor triggers leave you tied up in knots."

"Vigorous exercise may be key for people who have panic attacks," Smits says. "You experience rapid heartbeat and heavy breathing—the same symptoms that occur in anxiety. But when you exercise, you can get accustomed to those symptoms and stop seeing them as negative." In a study from the University of Georgia in Athens, sedentary women with generalized anxiety disorder started doing two 16-minute sessions of cardio a week. After six weeks, 40 percent no longer met the diagnostic criteria for the disorder.
Yoga works, too. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine find that yogis who practiced for an hour, three times a week for 12 weeks, had sharper dips in anxiety and felt calmer than a group who walked slowly for the same amount of time."

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