Exercise and Mood: The Impact Physical Activity has on our Mood
By Kathryn Mellon, iNSPIRE Psychologist
Have you ever had the worst day ever where nothing goes right? You fight with your friends, you
understood nothing in class and your mum is giving you a hard time about keeping your room clean.
The last thing you feel like doing is going to training and getting smashed by your coach. But you go,
because #life and you know it’s just not worth another argument explaining why you skipped out on
I don’t know about you but every time I’m in a bad mood or am feeling cranky I take myself to the
gym or go for a run or a walk. Almost instantly I feel better and can feel the stress leave my body as
I’m working out. Sure, it may have hurt and been a massive struggle to motivate me to get it done,
but the feeling you get at the end of it is always worth it. The impact physical activity has on mood plays a big role on our mental wellbeing. But, why is that?
To keep the science simple, exercise increases serotonin in the brain. What does this mean?
Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps to regulate anxiety, happiness and wellbeing. So,
when you’re doing exercise, you’re getting a natural boost of this mood enhancer. Combine that
with the sense of accomplishment we get when we have gotten through a particularly hard session
and it’s hard not to feel more positive.
While we are exercising, it is like nothing else in the world matters in the moment. You feel the
stress that has overwhelmed you throughout the day, leave your body as you focus on nothing more
than completing the task at hand on the training field. Depending on what type of exercise you are
doing, it may give you a chance to process the negative thoughts you have been having throughout
the day and work through them more logically.
Of course, it always helps to have some good friends close by that you train with to support you and
make you laugh at the end of each session block. The people that go through the same pains and
struggles every day, who understand what you are dealing with and can be there to pick you up and
support you when it all feels too much. Winning and individual achievement are awesome but a big reason we stay in a sport so long is the team we have around us.
The next time you have a rough day, make a conscious effort to pep yourself up for training and get
the most out of it. The worst that can happen is you feel the same way you did before you went, and
hey at least you channeled all of that negative energy into something productive.
For now, I’m going to sign off with this quote that I try to live by and hope you can too.
“Everyday may not be good but there is always something good in every day.”