Have you ever found yourself in a bad mood after sitting down all day? Perhaps your day job requires you to sit in front of a computer all day long. Regardless of the reason, sitting for too long may be bad for your mood. In fact, researchers have linked a sedentary lifestyle to depression and other mood disturbances. Read on to learn benefits of exercise and exactly how exercise might be the medicine you need for a better mood.

Sedentary lifestyle (Remaining Seated or Inactive) And The Risk Of A Depressed Mood

Researchers in China analysed the mental health of 193,166 individuals. The participants were involved in a total of 24 previously conducted studies. Participants in the studies were from various regions of the world, including Asia, America, Europe, and Australia. It was found that there does seem to be a strong association between a sedentary lifestyle and depression. In fact, people who watched TV or sat in front of a computer for prolonged times during the day were 25% more likely to develop depression. These results were compared to people who were more physically active during their daily routine. [caption id="attachment_3092" align="alignnone" width="1024"]attractive fit woman in gym attractive fit woman in gym[/caption] Another study looked at how sedentary behaviour affects the mental health of participants. Younger individuals involved in the study. This allowed researchers to point out that the mental effects of being sedentary can start early. All participants were between 14 and 15 years of age. A total of 9,702 participants were involved in the study. The average person seems to be 43% more likely to develop depression when they are sedentary, compared to a person who participates in leisure-time physical activity. The risk of anxiety disorder symptoms is also increased by about 88% in people who are physically inactive.

How Exercise May Improve Your Mood

There are several benefits that physical activity offers your body. In fact, physical exercise is a critical part of maintaining a healthy body. [caption id="attachment_8857" align="alignnone" width="2000"] Two girls training on the exercise machine in the gym.[/caption] When we exercise, our bodies benefit in different ways. Exercise helps you burn through excess calories, which can lead to weight loss if you are overweight. While most people focus on the physical benefits associated with exercise, it is important not to overlook the role that physical activity plays in mental health.  Further research needed to help scientists understand how exactly exercise regulates mood, but it has been found that there are certain chemical reactions that occur in the brain. One study explains that exercise leads to neuromodulation activity. In turn, this affects the production of hormones, neurotransmitters, and even certain amino acids. By having an impact on the production of these hormones and other chemicals, your mood may improve significantly. An imbalance in neurotransmitters and hormones has been shown to contribute to a negative mood, anxiety disorders, depression, and similar mental health problems. 

How Exercise is Related to Mood

A research paper in the MDPI Brain Sciences Journal explains that exercise and mood are related due to the Monoamine Connection. There are several effects that exercise has that enhance the overall function of the brain. In fact, the paper points out that exercise assists in the management of neuroinflammation, and even promotes antioxidation in the brain.

Benefits of Exercise on Overall Health

Exercise Effects On Neurotransmitters

There are also certain neurotrophic factors, as well as neurotransmitters, that change when you participate in the exercise. These particularly include:
  • Noradrenaline
  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
These are monoamine neurotransmitters. All three of these neurotransmitters known to play a role in the regulation of your mood. When levels of these neurotransmitters changed with exercise, you may experience an improvement in your mood.

Exercise Effects On Sleep

The average person sleeps for about 6.8 hours each night. Recent researcher reveals about 35% of the adult population fails to sleep enough each day. Without an appropriate amount of sleep, the body can suffer from several health problems.  Sleep deficiency is known to cause irritability, increase the likeliness of depression, and lead to other mental and mood problems.  Exercise has been shown to provide an improvement in sleep. With this in mind, restoration of adequate quality sleep through exercise may yield an improvement in mood through this particular mechanism too.

Other Ways That Exercise Relates To Mood

Exercising outside is a more beneficial option. This allows you to connect with other people while exercising – another factor that shows to be critical in the regulation of mood. Other ways that exercise may improve your mood include the boost in self-esteem and self-confidence that you may experience in the process. Apart from these, it is important to realize that exercise is beneficial for preventing certain diseases. Among individuals with existing diseases, exercise may be helpful.  [caption id="attachment_8858" align="alignnone" width="2000"] Woman doing push-ups in the park with personal trainer[/caption] In one study, researchers explore the relationship between the body’s cancer immunity and exercise. The paper reports a reduction in the risk of certain cancers associated with exercise. Furthermore, the same study shows that there is a reduced cancer relapse risk among patients who are physically active. The study also describes an enhanced immunity to cancer with the help of exercise - this can increase the chances of survival among affected patients.  Researchers report that the role that exercise plays in rehabilitation for cancer patients is also gaining relevance in the modern-day. More studies are looking at how exercise may be useful in helping patients cope with cancer, and reduce the progression of the disease. 

Benefits of Exercise In Treating Depression

Several publications report a high prevalence of depression among patients with cancer. In particular, research states that clinical depression and major depression are common in these patients. Exercise can help to regulate the production of neurotransmitters in these patients. This could yield an improvement in depressive symptoms. The exercise might also contribute to a more successful treatment procedure. When cancer progression slows down, the patient feels more positive about their potential prognosis. This positive outlook on the disease would then also create a reduction in feelings of depression and anxiety in the individual. Instead, the person may start to experience a more positive mood.  Note that this does not only apply to cancer. There are many other chronic diseases that cause depression in the patient. When physical activity is implemented to help the patient, depressive thoughts and moods may start to decline.

Exercise, Obesity, And Your Mood

We have primarily focused on some of the more direct effects that link exercise and your mood thus far. There is, however, an important physical factor that we need to consider. 

How Obesity Affects Mood

According to the World Health Organization, a 300% increase in the rate of obesity between 1975 and modern times. Over 1.9 billion people across the world are overweight. More than 650 million of these individuals have a BMI of 30 or higher, which means these individuals are obese. Obesity is no longer simply referred to as having excess weight in the body. Researchers and experts in the health industry now consider obesity a disease - one that is both treatable and preventable.  This is where exercise and mood come into the picture. Obesity affects both physical and mental health. People who are obese will usually have a higher chance of feeling depressed and experiencing a low mood. There are studies that have shown evidence of how obesity affects mental health. The issue comes into play due to a low self-esteem and body image associated with obesity. People generally feel reluctant to wearing certain clothes, as this may reveal parts of their body that they are not proud of. Several other situations affected when the person feels self-conscious about their weight and appearance.  A study published in the Journal of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology focused on providing more accurate data on how obesity and depression, as well as a low mood, may be connected. Data extracted from a HELIUS study, which include profiles for a total of 21,030 individuals. The profiles related to individuals aged between 18 and 70.  Researchers report consistency in obesity statistics among various groups included in the study. The researchers did conclude that a higher BMI had a more significant relation to depressed moods. This was especially observed among individuals with a BMI higher than 30. 

The Role Of Exercise

This is where exercise comes into the picture when looking at obesity and mood. While diet can be a helpful strategy for overcoming obesity, calories still need to be exerted for weight loss to be possible. Burning calories is possible through the right exercise program.  Several studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle and failure to exercise enough are the primary reasons for the increasing rate of obesity throughout the general population.  In one study, researchers describe the most effective method for targeting obesity. The study explains that both dietary and energy expenditure modification is necessary. Furthermore, researchers suggest that aerobic exercise may be the most efficient method for individuals who are obese. These exercises help to reduce the amount of adipose tissue collected in the body. This exercise program combined with strength training and resistance exercise. The combined effect allows fat mass to be reduced, without affecting lean mass.  As body fat percentage declines through exercise, the individual starts to feel more self-confident. Body image starts to increase significantly once the visual results observed. This also leads to improved mood. Not only does exercise have direct effects on the neurochemicals and hormones in the body, but the indirect effects (improved body image and confidence) further contribute to a better mood.  Conclusion People who live sedentary lives have a greater risk of depression and anxiety. These mental disorders can cause problems with your mood, making you feel depressed, sad, and irritable. Exercise, on the other hand, might be an effective way of elevating your mood, possibly even contributing to improvements in depression and anxiety disorder symptoms.