We’ve all read that exercise is great for mental health and there is exponential research to support that claim. Exercise releases ‘feelgood’ hormones such as endorphins and serotonin, boosting your mood and reducing stress and anxiety. What if I were to suggest that you can approach exercise in a more effective manner in order to reduce these symptoms?
Having recently reading ‘How to Change Your Mind’, a book about psychedelics and their potential as a treatment for mental disorders and higher thinking, it intrigued me from both a personal and professional aspect. I definitely recommend the read!
One such discussion was that on low entropy state. Essentially explaining how excess order (eg. Rigid thinking and obsessive behaviour) results in a hyperactive ‘default mode’. This ultimately traps us in a repetitive and destructive state of rumination. – Think classic signs of Obessive Complusive Disorder, anxiety and depression and to a lesser extent, obsessive eating or exercise habits. If on the other hand, we are able to access a high entropic state, the brain becomes less specialised and more globally interconnected.
Learning entails the establishment of new neural networks (neuroplasticity) – If we are able to boost the diversity in our mental life (ie. high entropic state), the more possibilities the mind has and the more creative our solutions will become.
Where am I going with this, and what does it have to do with exercise?
Most of us understand that we need to change our exercise program routinely in order to see improvement; whether it be increasing the resistance, trying a new exercise or trying a completely different sport. When we first try something new, it’s hard and we’re rarely a natural at it. It is this same concept that we can employ with our workout routine. We want to ‘surprise’ our body as often as possible, not only to improve our physical function, but also our mental function.
If you always exercise on the same day, at the same time and do the same routine on those days, try changing it up. Come to Personal Best Fitness at a different time or try a different workout routine or class. The members in my small group personal training will know I love using ViPRs and will often introduce a few group activities or exercises in which they’re made to focus on what they’re doing and creating ‘game’ based training. This can be as simple as throwing a tennis ball or other games you used to play as a kid such as Simon says. You’d be surprised about how quickly this kind of exercise can get your heart rate up, all the while putting a big smile on your face. And better yet, you’re improving your brain’s ability to wire itself and improving your mental health.
Senior Personal Trainer
Here is some further reading on the research discussed in the article:
Dufek S, 2002. Exercise Variability: A prescription for Overuse Injury Prevention. ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal.
Mohan, Akansha, Aaron J. Roberto, Abhishek Mohan, Aileen Lorenzo, Kathryn Jones, Martin J. Carney, Luis Liogier-Weyback, Soonjo Hwang, and Kyle A.B. Lapidus. 2016. “The Significance of the Default Mode Network (DMN) in Neurological and Neuropsychiatric Disorders: A Review.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 89 (1): 49-57.
Pollan M, 2018. How to Change Your Mind. Penguin Group, United States.
Ross R, Goodpaster BH, Koch LG, et alPrecision exercise medicine: understanding exercise response variability. British Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 12 March 2019. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-100328