Numerous studies have shown that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and beta-endorphin, all of which elevate mood and reduce depression and anxiety. Research is showing what runners have known all along: In this state of mind, they are more likely to disclose thoughts and feelings—whether it's to a training partner or licensed therapist—when they are logging miles.
"The therapeutic benefits of exercise increase with intensity," says Madhukar Trivedi, M.D., professor of psychiatry and director of the mood disorders program at the University of Texas Southwestern. Dr. Trivedi's research shows that a particular dose (30 to 35 minutes, three or four times a week) and intensity (moderate to high) of exercise is most effective for relieving feelings of sadness and irritability.
"Being outside, we realize life is a lot bigger than our problems," he says. "All the visual, aural, and olfactory experiences of the outdoors help you remember that you are experiencing life. It brings you into the present—you are part of nature, not just a passive observer."
(HT: Tom T)