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A good workout will give you all the benefits you might receive from most antidepressants, and is completely natural. In numerous studies, exercise has been found to remedy mild to moderate anxiety and depression.  It is an effective choice to elevate your mood, however many people underuse it as a treatment option.  While it may be hard to get in a workout routine initially, after the fact people are always glad that they forced themselves to get up and start moving.

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In our brain there are four main neurochemicals that regulate our mood: serotonin, epinephrine, dopamine and endorphins.  Exercise has a positive effect on all four chemicals and is crucial for keeping the chemical levels in our brain balanced.

Serotonin
This neurochemical is responsible for elevating our mood and making us feel happy and content.  After a long run, a meal with a lot of carbohydrates or time spent with family and friends, the serotonin levels in our brain rises.  When the serotonin levels drop, you might begin to feel depressed.

Dopamine
A neurochemical that helps regulate our sleeping and waking cycles.  If your dopamine levels are out of whack, you might have trouble falling asleep or sleeping soundly through the night.  The serotonin levels in our brain are directly related to the dopamine levels.  As the serotonin in our brain increases, so does the amount of dopamine.

Epinephrine
During a “flight or flight” response, this neurochemical in released in our brain. When we get scared or chronically stressed in our life, the levels of epinephrine become depleted.  Juggling many tasks at once or failing to keep your body properly nourished, all contribute to depleted levels of epinephrine.  While high intensity exercise helps raise the levels of epinephrine, lower intensity workouts act as a stress on the body and consequently cause the levels of epinephrine to drop.

Endorphins
Are a commonly recognized neurochemical, and act as our body’s natural painkiller. Endorphins are analgesics, which mean they diminish pain perception. They act on many of the same neruoreceptors as most pain medications, such as morphine.  If you ever fell and cut yourself while on a run, you might remember that you don’t begin to feel any pain from the cut until after you finish running.  High endorphin levels during intense exercise contribute to the “high” that many athletes experience.

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High intensity workouts, that include any cardiovascular or aerobic work, will help raise the levels of all four neurochemicals in your brain. However if you want to keep you workouts short or prefer just going for walks, you can still have a positive impact on your mood.  Lower intensity exercise won’t increase epinephrine levels and give you a “high,” but will help to regulate dopamine and serotonin levels.  It is important to note that you should avoid all strenuous exercise before you go to sleep, because the change in dopamine levels can interrupt your sleep cycle and make it hard to fall asleep.  Take a leap of faith and try out a regular workout routine, if you don’t already have one. It is something worth making time for. After all, it can only make you feel better.

To find out more how you can improve your health and stay fit, visit Dr. Abroon’s website by clicking HERE.