By Hannah Entner, NAMI-UW Ambassador
A great quote from one of my favorite movies, Legally Blonde is “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” I’ve always thought this line was funny and maybe true, but never really thought about it until recently. Can you think of a time when you left the gym, a yoga class, or finished a run in a bad mood? Probably not. In fact, every time I leave the gym I feel like I could conquer the world. This mood boost happens because exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, the hormones that make you feel good inside. This is the reason you are constantly hearing that exercise is good for mental health. Endorphins help to decrease anxiety and depression. Chemically, this makes sense. It is proven to me every time I feel an anxious episode coming on and decide to head to the gym. Or when I’m having a particularly bad day at school and I stop at the gym on my way home. Nothing special happens between the time I walk through those doors and walk out, but I always feel significantly better afterwards, like I had never had those negative feelings in the first place. However, I don’t think endorphins are the only reason that exercise is good for our mental health. When you work out, you are doing something for yourself. It may be to destress, lose weight, or improve heart health, but all of these are ways to improve yourself and no one else. This is something to feel good about because it can be really hard to motivate yourself to exercise. But once you get there, it makes sense to feel happy because you achieved something. Good for you! You deserve those endorphins! So pick a type of exercise you love, because who doesn’t feel good when they do something they love, and the next time you’re feeling down, try to work out instead. You truly will feel the benefits inside and out.