Exercise – it makes us feel great physically and mentally. So why does the thought of it feel such a drag at times?
We know it’s going to make us look better and give us a nice, relaxed high. It’ll even make us react better to those annoying individuals we happen to bump into on the commuter train or at the grocery store.
In fact it’s calming properties are so good, say researchers that it’s equivalent to smoking the odd joint or two (not that we have!). The University of California did a study which showed one of the drugs exercise released was called cannabinoids which you’d get in yes, you’ve guess it – hash.
Other studies have shown that exercise benefited individuals suffering from mild depression to the same extent that the anti-depressant drug Setraline did (Duke University, North Carolina). That initial study was done in 1999 and since then numerous others have shown the same. Some have gone on to claim that aerobic exercise doesn’t just benefit the sufferer of mild depression at the time, but may also prevent further bouts of the illness recurring.
What we like about these studies here at Overland Park Boot Camp is that we’re not just talking about marathon runners or Olympic swimmers. No, even just a 20 or 30 minute aerobic workout can have the same health benefits. That means a brisk walk round the mall with friends, a cycle into town or a game of soft ball in the park.
Along with the high exercise gives you, there’s also the sense of calm and relaxation you can benefit from. Staying in Carolina, biologists at the University of Georgia found that laboratory mice were better able to cope with unexpected challenges after a few weeks of exercise. This is because the aerobic fitness routines they had been exposed to had, over 21 days or so, switched on a stress-relieving chemical in their brain called norepinephrine.
At Overland Park Boot Camp there are a few us here who would admit to feeling a bit irritable if we miss our exercise sessions for a couple of days through illness etc. We also feel sluggish and tired. In fact, put like that, why would anyone want to miss out on exercise?!
“Indeed,” says Philip Holmes, professor of Neuroscience at the University of Georgia. “It occurs to us that exercise is the more normal or natural condition and that being sedentary is really the abnormal situation.”