Runner’s high is a term given to the combination of adrenaline and endorphins one feels in the peak of their exercise. It is not secret that exercise can change someone’s mental health in addition to enhancing their physical health. Treatment for depression frequently includes a prescription for a regular exercise routine. Indeed, a wide variety of physical and mental health problems can see an improvement of symptoms through exercise.
A recent study compared the effects of exercise to participants difficulty with emotional regulation. Participants watched a particularly upsetting film clip and depending on whether they had exercise or not, were gauged on their ability to regulate their emotions. First, participants took a survey to gauge their emotional mood. After becoming aware of their emotional state and recording it, participants were instructed to engage in 30 minutes of exercise in the form of jogging or stretching. After their exercise they viewed the sad clip from a movie and had to report how they felt. Those who had engaged in exercise just shortly before had a better time of regulating the negative emotions stirred while watching the clip. On the other hand, those who hadn’t exercised reported difficulty making themselves feel better after the sadness.
It may seem like these findings offer no real surprise, but the true shock is that even in a short term situation, a short amount of exercise improved emotional regulation. Mistakenly, many assume that the positive effects of exercise take time to develop. Instead, this study shows that the effects are immediate.
What this means
Desired physical results from exercise may not be as instantaneous as the mental ones. However, the instancy of mood elevation and regulating emotion should be incredibly encouraging. In the early stages of recovery from mental health issues like depression or anxiety and addiction or substance abuse, it can be challenging to believe in the possibility of improvement. By including daily exercise routines of just 30 minutes, we can see rapid gains in emotional regulation. Seeing incremental improvement in mood will double that feel-good factor.
Refuge Recovery encourages regular yoga practice as well as aerobic exercise. We see improvements in our patients in every part of our program. Combining buddhist based mindfulness with evidence based treatment, our treatment heals body, mind, and soul. For more information on our programs of treatment please call (323) 207-0276