Can Cardio Improve Your Overall Mood?

Cardio, A Mood Booster…

I know many of us aren’t fans of cardio, but before you completely push the idea aside, take a look at all the wonderful benefits! Not only will it kick start your metabolism and help you shed those stubborn pounds, but it is an overall mood booster. Oh yeah, you heard me correctly! Implementing a little cardio into your daily life will curb that negativity.

Did you know that our body actually craves cardio? Think i’m joking… you are mistaken. Our brain releases chemicals to make cardio more enjoyable. Those chemicals are serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine. These are all better known as neurotransmitters, and recently have been found highly effective in improving mood and even fighting against mental health disorders.  So, what exactly do each of these do… let me explain!

Here is a brief description of why these chemicals are important. Serotonin has been proven to decrease depression and hostility, while making your overall social behavior more pleasant. This is produced by long-term cardio exercise! Dopamine is great for long-term memory and just like Serotonin, it improves your mood. It does so by stimulating the pleasure sensors in your brain. This is known to many of us as “runners high.” Don’t worry you don’t have to run 5 miles a day to get the benefits of these awesome neurotransmitters; non-strenuous exercise such as walking, dancing, and biking will increase your dopamine levels.  Remember week 6, when we had to increase our daily steps to 10,000? Oh yeah, there is a method to my madness. You are decreasing your chance of obesity and increasing those mood boosters!

Serotonin, on the other hand, is released at high levels of physical exhaustion, so you really need to work extra hard in that spin class to keep your Serotonin levels high! This kind of exercise is still good for your overall health, so don’t rid yourself of high physical exhaustion activities, but now you know that something as simple as walking can help in a variety of other ways! What is your favorite way to implement some cardio into your routine?



Kim Shapira MS, RD

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