If you find yourself feeling down or irritable more days than not, spending more time at your local gym may help turn things around. That’s right. The mind-body connection is REAL people!
It’s true. Take the classic runner’s high for instance. After a long run, endurance swim or intense HIIT workout, BOOM! People feel crazy good afterwards. Why? Exercise is essential for a healthy brain. And the benefits reach far beyond a short-term high. Exercise can also help you get a good night’s sleep (YES!) and do wonders for long-term mental health and wellbeing.
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So why is exercise so beneficial? What kind do you need? And how can you maximize the benefits? We asked Houston neurologist Eddie Patton Jr., MD, MBA, MS to weigh in.
Body Machine Fitness (BMF): Dr. Patton, what’s going on with our bodies when we get a runner’s high, and do you have to run to get it?
Dr. Patton Jr.: Runner’s high – and even swimmer’s high – is usually associated with long-duration, rhythmic exercises such as running, jogging, marathon running, swimming or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts. It has a lot to do with hormone release, especially norepinephrine and dopamine and serotonin, which are reward hormones that let our bodies know they’re working hard. There's also some contribution from increased body temperatures.
BMF: Along with that initial “high,” how can exercise give our health – mental and physical – a boost over the long run?
Dr. Patton Jr.: I really believe exercise is the fountain of youth. Research shows that exercise improves mood long-term and has a positive effect on chronic health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension and may benefit people with other conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. It has also been found to help with pain from diabetic neuropathy.
People who do engage in these long-duration exercises, such as running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), tend to suffer less depression and anxiety as well.
Exercise can cause physiological changes in the body structure, including the hormones. This can alter the way you consume food and increase metabolism, which culminates to give you more energy and help you feel better overall. People who exercise also tend to sleep better, and there is a strong correlation between quality of sleep and mental health.
BMF: From a feel good in the head perspective, what can people do to maximize the benefits of their workouts?
Dr. Patton Jr.: As a neurologist, I'm all about the brain and how we can do so much more when we're pushed and unlock the potential within our minds. Workouts that stimulate multiple senses, like the ones at BMF, can help you stay motivated and work harder.
So having programs where the trainer is pushing you hard, the lights stimulating you visually and music stimulating the auditory senses, really helps. In fact, research from multiple sources suggests that high-frequency music, where the beat and rhythm increase your heart rate, increases your ability to work out harder.
Face it, most people don't want to spend all day in a gym – they would rather maximize their time. Stimulating all the senses and bringing everything together – the light show, the sounds, the constant motivation from the trainers – really helps to motivate participants, so they can get the most out of their workouts.
BMF: At BMF, our members also rely on each other for support and encouragement to push harder. Can working out in a group setting make a difference for people struggling with mental health issues?
Dr. Patton Jr.: Another thing that Body Machine Fitness in Plano did right was create a workout program that's not about going to the local gym and working out in isolation. It's about stimulating people. It's about getting the most out of the workout. It's about having a positive experience in a community of people who are going to support you.
Having that community aspect greatly benefits long-term mental health, not just for that workout, not just for that gym, but even beyond the gym and into your daily life. When you have people who support you and push you, it can really help you feel better over the long-term.
Ready to boost your brain power and turn your frown upside down?
At BMF’s Plano boutique fitness studio, our combo HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and resistance training workouts (no two workouts are EVER the same) and club-like atmosphere (with lights and music produced by our onsite DJ Tog) are changing lives every day.
Don’t take our word for it! Check out our Yelp reviews to read life-changing stories from members of the BMF community – or as we call them – our tribe.
Want to check out a group personal training class at BMF? Not only is your FIRST CLASS FREE (sign up here)– BMF never charges an enrollment fee OR cancellation fee – EVER.
We’re also happy to answer any questions you have about BMF or our classes. Feel free to contact us by phone at 214-396-8585 or email us at email@example.com.