How Come After You Work Out You Feel Calm?

Four neurochemicals are responsible for that calm feeling you get after exercising, according to a 2010 study in "Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine." These are endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. When you exercise, your body releases these neurotransmitters resulting in a calmer, less stressed you.


In 2004, researchers Lynette L. Craft and Frank M. Perna published a study finding a reduction of anxiety and depression in a control group prescribed a 12-week exercise program. The study used aerobic and strength exercises. Yoga, according to researchers Anjali Joshi and Avinash De Sousa, will also increase this feel-good hormone in your body. After a workout, endorphins are released into your bloodstream, working with the other neurochemicals to produce a natural euphoric feeling. The more endorphins in your system, the calmer you will feel.

Soothing Serotonin

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In his research "How to Increase Serotonin in the Human Brain Without Drugs," author Simon N. Young explains that serotonin is released during exercise. The article, appearing in the 2007 edition of "Journal of Psychiatry of Neuroscience," explains that the chemical's release continues even after exercise has stopped. A study at Japan's Hokkaido University School of Medicine examined the post-exercise effect serotonin has on the bloodstream, finding that the chemical helped regulate blood pressure. After exercising, serotonin helps stabilize your blood pressure while the other neurochemicals relax your mind.

Dopamine and Norepinephrine

The prefrontal cortex is a section in your brain that runs crowd control, regulating the constant neurological traffic entering and exiting the massive superhighway that is your brain. For this important job to run smoothly, the area needs dopamine and norepinephrine. According to Dr. John Ratey, dopamine and norepinephrine's ability to regulate the neurological highway is aided by exercise. In his book "Spark," Ratey discusses the association between attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), exercise and calmness. After we exercise, Ratey says, the increase in these neurochemicals increases feelings of happiness and calm in our minds.

Exercise for Stress Relief

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Staff writers for the February 2011 Harvard Men's Health Watch explain that while exercise is increasing your levels of hormones that ease pain and stress, it's also reducing the amount of natural stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. According to the Harvard health professionals, both aerobic and endurance exercises increase feel-good hormones in the body. Jogging, brisk walking and the elliptical are all forms of aerobic workout. The Harvard writers note that 20 minutes of walking can be enough to calm the mind and reduce stress.