If you have found yourself working out hard only to come home and clean the refrigerator – and I don’t mean with a sponge – it may be time to take another look at your workouts.
Last month, we talked about how to use nutrition to balance the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain to control food cravings.
When your serotonin level is low, you will be more susceptible to crave carbohydrates and to drink alcohol, smoke, or indulge some other addiction. But serotonin is only part of the picture.
When your dopamine level is high, you are likely to feel anxious, aggressive, and have difficulty sleeping. Low dopamine can cause depression and exhaustion.
Ideally, you will want to have balanced levels of serotonin to combat depression and enough dopamine to feel alert enough to enjoy your life.
Exercise to Boost Low Serotonin
Engaging in high intensity exercise may only make you feel worse, both mentally and physically, if you haven’t had the proper rest or nutrition. If you feel physically wiped out and are eating for energy or to stave off depression, you can rejuvenate your mind and body by:
Walking in nature
Practicing yoga or Tai Chi
Trying low impact aerobics
Lifting light weights with high reps
Exercises That Temporarily Lower Dopamine and Raise Serotonin
Because carbohydrates are natural tranquilizers, many of us turn to cakes, ice cream, and cookies when we feel anxious, only to feel worse afterwards. A better way to lower dopamine:
Jogging, rowing, stairmaster
High-exertion weight lifting
Listen To Your Body
Because anyone can alternate from a low serotonin, high-dopamine (depressed and anxious) to a low serotonin, low-dopamine (exhausted and wiped out) state, tune into your frame of mind as you plan your workout for the day.
Try yoga after an exhausting day at work to restore your mind and body. When you have anxiety to burn off, go for a run or lift heavy weights.
My business, Total Fitness, is about helping you achieve balance not just flexibility, body composition, strength, and endurance — but also quality of life. Discipline doesn’t mean inflexibility — it means treating yourself with love and intelligence.
According to my book, Healing Depression, exercise has been found to be as effective as group therapy for improving your mood. The idea of a dumb jock is a false stereotype. A person on a stationary bicycle has more brain activity than someone watching an educational video. Working out has been proven to improve your creativity.