Imagine this: you’ve just finished your Tuesday night rec. league soccer match. You’re high-fiving your teammates and everyone is exhausted and sweaty, but no one cares because you’re all feeling great. Where does that great feeling come from?
You might have heard of a term “runners high”. It speaks to the joyful, exhilarated feeling you get after physical activity.
Here are a few reasons why you feel so good after being physically active.
Physiological: The Way Exercise Affects Your Body
We all agree that aerobic exercise improves overall physical health. A less known fact is that opioids (substances that make you feel good) are released in your brain when you are active. This happens when exercise intensity is moderate to vigorous and the duration is greater than 20 minutes. It just so happens that the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend this amount of physical activity as a minimum for adults – coincidence? I don’t think so!
Psychological: The Way Exercise Affects Your Mind
There are many mental health benefits of physical activity. To list a few:
- Participating in sports and activities can provide a sense of accomplishment and feeling of empowerment.
- Exercising can improve self-esteem and self-efficacy.
- Being active on a regular basis appears to help prevent anxiety and depression. Exercise is also used as treatment tool for both depression and anxiety.
- Being active on a daily basis helps with routine and keeps you focused on your physical activity goals.
Social: The Way Exercise Affects Your Connection to Others
The social part of physical activity is quite clear in team sports, where a supportive atmosphere and camaraderie are commonplace. A lot of “individual” sports like cycling, swimming or gymnastics also provide that sense of community as they are usually done in a club setting or with training partners. Finding like-minded people to enjoy a sport or activity with is a great way to unwind and can give you a strong feeling of belonging. Plus, it’s way more fun to be active with friends!
These are some common reasons I tell callers why being physically active feels good, each one of you may have your own reasons. We’d love to hear why being active makes you happy and how it energizes you. Leave a comment or send us a Tweet @HealthFamilyBC and @TeamPAL!