Did you know about the ‘Hope Molecules’?

The ‘hope molecules’ are live molecules called myokines in our body that release when we exercise, specifically when our muscles contract. They have an effect on our mood and brain functioning.

As a psychotherapist, I often discuss the benefits of physical exercise with my clients. Many of my clients share that they find it a great way to cope with life’s daily stressors and a way to dedicate time to themselves. 

While many people know that exercise is good for their physical health ….

…. fewer are aware of its significant positive impact on mental health. 

First and foremost, physical exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals in the brain. Endorphins help to reduce feelings of pain and boost feelings of pleasure and well-being.

Regular exercise can also help to reduce stress levels. When we exercise, we release muscle tension and relieve built-up stress. Additionally, exercise can help lower our cortisol levels, a hormone released in response to stress. By lowering cortisol levels, physical activity reduces anxiety and promotes a sense of calm.

Physical exercise can improve our self-esteem and cognitive function.

Another benefit of physical exercise is that it can improve self-esteem and self-confidence. Regular exercise can help us feel better about our bodies, and achieving fitness goals can give us a sense of accomplishment. This boost in self-esteem can also help us feel more confident in other areas of our lives.

Finally, physical exercise can help to improve cognitive function. Exercise has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which can help to improve memory and concentration. Additionally, exercise can help reduce cognitive decline risk in later life.

So, how can you incorporate physical exercise into your daily routine? 

The key is to find an activity that you enjoy, and that fits into your schedule. This could be anything from running, walking or cycling to yoga or dance. Listen to music while you are cooking or cleaning; it motivates the body to move, and music always uplifts our mood. 

Dance like no one is watching! 

It doesn’t have to be a high-intensity workout – even a brisk walk, dog walking, or gardening can have significant mental health benefits. I enjoy listening to my favourite podcasts or audiobooks while walking in my neighbourhood. 

Setting achievable goals and being consistent with your exercise routine are also important. Start with small goals. Try exercising at least twice a week for 30 minutes or more. You can join or organize a walking group or visit your closest community centre and see what they offer. 

Exercising with other people can be a great way to socialize. If you identify as an introvert or spend long hours alone, being around others contributes to breaking up the isolation. 

In conclusion

A physical exercise routine is an excellent tool for improving mental health. It can help to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, lower stress levels, improve self-esteem and self-confidence and enhance cognitive function. By incorporating exercise into your daily routine, you can experience these benefits and improve your overall mental health and well-being.

Keep moving!