My client came to see me yesterday feeling grumpy about work. She doesn’t want to do another day’s work in her life. After running a challenging 24 minutes on the treadmill, including 3 minutes fast / 3 minutes easy } x 3, she came off feeling heaps better. She said the running was so hard it was impossible to think of anything else, and a ‘big hole appeared where her thoughts should be’. She felt ready to tackle the rest of the session with gusto!
Research carried out in 2017 (Neuropsychopharmacology) showed that higher intensity exercise led to higher levels of circulating endorphins (feel good hormones), when compared to moderate intensity exercise. However, there were also some negative feelings and pain associated with the high intensity study group, whereas the moderate group showed only pleasurable feelings. Higher intensity exercise is more challenging emotionally and physically than moderate exercise, but the increased endorphins it produces may outweigh any negatives. Clearly it isn’t nice when you are pulling out all the stops, but the rewards can be so uplifting that it’s worth it, and those happy hormones can last for a few hours after the exercise.
Also, the sense of achievement and mastery gained from spurring your body to its limit must be a mood enhancer in itself. It’s not for everyone, but if you can face it, give it a try, and not only does lung-busting bouts of exercise benefit your fitness levels in less time but can make you smile even more!