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Move for your mood

It’s no secret that many of us are struggling right now, feeling worried, stressed and isolated.

We are bombarded with events that are beyond our control but make us feel overwhelmed and sad. To be happier, it’s important that we focus on what we can directly and immediately influence…like our mood.

There is a solution to lift our spirits that’s within everyone’s grasp. It’s not expensive. It’s not complicated. It’s not hard to get. It’s simple: Get yourself moving. Any physical activity will work. You could walk, wheel, run, bike, dance, skip or do yoga— you name it!

A woman doing an ab workout on stability ball

How can physical activity impact my mood?

A teenage girl in a swimming cap and bathing suit smiling in pool

Happiness, like stress, relies on chemical reactions in our body. Endorphins, dopamine and serotonin all play a part in tipping the scale of our mood.

Unfortunately, too many of us are trying to influence our mood through alcohol and other substance use, or perhaps by vegging out in front of a screen for hours on end. Before COVID-19, most people living in Canada were spending up to 10 hours a day being sedentary and indoors, and those numbers have only gone up since. While these activities may offer some short-term relief, they have negative long-term effects.

Research shows that physically active people are more satisfied with their lives and that exercise itself is strongly linked to happiness. In fact, within five minutes after moderate exercise, you are likely to experience a mood-enhancement effect.

Getting 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a week reduces levels of the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, and increases endorphins and feel-good chemicals, dopamine and serotonin. Physical activity literally boosts your mood!

Here’s how:

Move for your mood by following these tips:

  • Get outside in the daylight! Research has proven that being physically active outdoors can have a profound impact on our moods.1 A lunch-hour walk or jog is an excellent way to start.
  • Learn to love Canada’s four seasons by finding physical activities you can enjoy during each. Snow on the ground? Try your hand at snowshoeing. Summer in full swing? Take a paddleboarding lesson.
  • The key to reaping the mental health benefits of physical activity is to make it a daily part of your life. Try for just 30 minutes daily to start.
  • Consider any form of group fitness! Social bonding, like movement, releases additional feel-good chemicals, which can contribute to enhancing our mood.
  • Check out the free ParticipACTION app to track your progress and for ongoing motivation, articles and exercise videos.

DISCLAIMER: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health-care provider when it comes to your condition. If you are in crisis or are having suicidal feelings or thoughts, it’s important to seek support by calling 911, a crisis line, your doctor, a therapist or a hospital immediately.

GET HELP:

Crisis Services Canada (24/7)
Call 1-833-456-4566
(in QC: 1-866-277-3553)
Visit www.crisisservicescanada.ca.

Your CMHA
Find your CMHA: cmha.ca/find-your-cmha

BounceBack
Visit www.cmha.ca/bounceback
Call 1-855-873-0013

Wellness Together Canada
Visit ca.portal.gs/ or text WELLNESS (adults) or FRONTLINE to 741741.

References

  1. HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL. (2010). SPENDING TIME OUTDOORS IS GOOD FOR YOU. HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL. RETRIEVED FROM https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/spending-time-outdoors-is-good-for-you