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How to Use Physical Activity to Improve Your Mental Health

IN THE April 17 ISSUE

FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andMental Health
SECTIONS

by staff

The past decade has taught us that life is constantly changing and it is not as easy as it used to be to keep a clear and stress-free mind. This does not come as a surprise when we think about how things are constantly changing due to the evolution of technology.

As information is available everywhere, our minds are constantly filled with knowledge about everything which, most of the time, makes us feel overwhelmed and tired at the end of the day. One hundred years ago, people used to think that people were ignorant due to the lack of information.

However, the way that our society has evolved is proof that it was not the case. Sometimes there is such a thing as too much information. paid post

The importance of movement
This change is not the only one that has created mental health problems such as depression and anxiety among human beings. Our lives have changed in another important way: we move less.

In the prehistoric era, people had to hunt to have food so they had to move a lot and had to do a lot of physical chores to stay alive. They could not buy food from a supermarket or eat at a restaurant. Nowadays, people have become more sedentary due to their jobs and that influences the body as much as the mind.

When the human body evolved, there were some neurotransmitters that were released into our bodies to make us feel good while we were moving. Most of them had survival roles and all of them made up such great mechanisms that people did not feel like they were doing something that was beyond their capabilities.

The endorphins, for example, which are processed by our brain in the same area that processes morphine, are really useful to reduce pain. But why does this happen when we move? Well, if a person got injured while hunting and they were chased by a dangerous animal, they had to not feel the pain so that they could arrive at a safe place.

When people started to domesticate animals, at some point they had to endure long-distance walks to provide supplies for feeding goats, so the brain had to come up with a way to ignore the pain. It makes a lot of sense, considering that this was a way to keep the species alive.

The modern way of exercising
Back then, physical activity was incorporated into people’s daily lives. Now, however, we sometimes find it hard to incorporate movement especially if we have a sedentary job, like working at a desk eight hours a day. So we have come up with a system of exercising an hour or two every day, in ways that are more efficient than others.

It’s true, most of us don’t find the time to do that daily, but let’s pretend that we live in a world where everybody understands the importance of movement. Running and activities that are similar, produce an interesting process inside our brains. They make the brain release endorphins and they also activate the endocannabinoid system inside our brains.

This means more happy feelings, but how? The endorphins have another role aside from the fact that they reduce pain. They give us a happy feeling like when we eat cake. The brain also produces some chemicals that activate the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for the good feeling people get when they smoke marijuana.

The bottom line is that our bodies have mechanisms of making us happy and a great part of these mechanisms include movement. Researchers have concluded that movements can sometimes be as effective as some medication prescribed for depression and it can also help alleviate anxiety, so what are you waiting for? Get moving.

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