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Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.
Essays and Blogs Concerning Mental and Emotional Health

Exercise promotes happiness and can have an antidepressant effect

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Jun 1st 2006

No real news here, but the theme is definitely worth repeating. One of the most overlooked things that people can do to make themselves happier is to exercise regularly. Vigorous regular exercise is a pretty good anti-depressant, and it just helps you feel better about yourself and your life overall. One of those things that exercisers know, but relatively few therapists and doctors prescribe, probably because therapy is supposed to be about doing something mental (or chemical) to make you feel better, and exercise is so physical. It works because the mind and the body are one interconnected thing and not separate things. When you exercise regularly, you tone your body and metabolism, regulates stress hormones like cortisol, and promotes the release of endorphins (morphine-like substances that your body naturally releases when you exercise). I'm sitting on the couch right now surfing the net, looking for things to report to you all, but now that I've come across this, I'm going to visit the gym (grin!).

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. was Director of Mental Help Net from 1999 to 2011. Presently, he is an Oakland Psychologist (Lic#PSY25695) in private practice offering evidence-based acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and addressing a range of life problems. Contact Dr. Dombeck by calling 510-900-5123, send Dr. Dombeck email or visit Dr. Dombeck's practice website for more information.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Exercise = Happiness - - Jul 7th 2009

Exercise = Happiness. Simple as that!

agreement - john - Jun 23rd 2007
......I normally walk one hour a keeps my weight within personal accepted thresholds....but I walked two hours....two intervals of one hour each...AND I biked outside for one hour.....with some problems of occassional hilly terrain....I get home ......and I feel terriffic.....I mean reallly GOOD.......I feel so good...I can t sleep.....whatever is happening to me is a wonderful experience because I feel HAPPY...real  HAPPY....better than pizza or ice-cream or sex.....better than ego satisfaction.....perhaps its endorphins......but why the elongated time parameter.? possible explanation is that for some people exercise enhances other body chemicals (besides endorphins)..i.e. makes me think....SSRI s are a common mood enhancer for most people....what about the synergistic effects of exercise and drugs???    I m not a phd. but a speculative thought would be appreciated

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