How to Run Your Mind

How to Run Your Mind

Physical fitness is very crucial for our well-being. Most people focus solely on the physical benefits of working out like gaining muscle, losing weight, or building endurance. Although these are all good things to value, why don’t we look at some of the mental gains from working out? 

It has been proven time and time again that exercise will ease depression, anxiety, and the symptoms of ADHD, OCD, and ADD. But we’ve heard this all our lives without any actual proof.  It is said that physical activity can enhance mental well-being as equally as psychotherapy. Many theories or hypotheses back up such statements: the endorphin hypothesis, the thermogenic hypothesis, the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), neurotransmitter dysfunction, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. 

Endorphine Hypothesis: When we work out our bodies, it releases endorphins into our brains. An endorphin is a feel-good chemical with similar effects to cannabis, but a more natural kind that isn’t as harmful to come by. 

Thermogenic Hypothesis: States that an increase in core body temperature resulting from exercise reduces anxiety by relieving muscular tension and altering neuron activity.

Mammalian Target of Rapamycin: An important protein kinase that senses changes in extracellular and intracellular energy levels and plays a key role in regulating energy metabolism. The more energy we have, the better we feel.

Neurotransmitter Dysfunction Theory:  Developed in the 1960s, the “catecholamine hypothesis” was a popular explanation for why people developed depression. This hypothesis suggested that a deficiency of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) in certain areas of the brain was responsible for creating a depressed mood.

Hypothalamic Pituitary-adrenal Axis:  Major component of the homeostatic response is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, an intricate, yet robust, neuroendocrine mechanism that mediates the effects of stressors by regulating numerous physiological processes, such as metabolism, immune responses, and the autonomic nervous system

All of these hypotheses are an explanation for the link between exercise and good mental health. If you put your focus on even just one of these and learn about the facts, you can make smarter and more significant changes in your exercise routine. To hear from a reliable and well-known source from MCHS, Mr. Jones describes how exercising and sports positively impacted his mental state. 

Exercising can keep your mind off of worries and troubles that you may be hyper-fixated on otherwise. It is a healthy distraction that can keep balance in our lives from negative thoughts, feelings, and actions. It’s a good coping mechanism that doesn’t deflate your health in any way. There are no negative impacts to working out like there are with other coping mechanisms such as excessive substance using, over/under eating, constantly laying in bed, or staying on your phone 24/7. These are all ways to escape reality for a temporary amount of time, but none of these get you any quality of life. As you try to get out of your own world, why not be building for your future? It also gives you a sense of confidence when you work out. Not only just because you look good, but you feel good. Mentally, you are in a better place. You can now walk around knowing that you are working towards something for yourself that no one can take away from you. Many people who get confidence from academic achievements feel this way when getting an A on an assignment. No matter where you get your reassurance from, exercise can be a very satisfying area to gain it from. But like all things, use exercise in moderation. Don’t push yourself too far and hurt your body, and don’t focus your mind, body, and soul completely on exercising. Fitness will not fix your problems, it will only better your ability to deal with them.


Here are some local gyms near Paducah, KY: