Exercise and Your Brain Pharmacy

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It’s World Mental Health Day and what better way to celebrate than reading a blog post! Jokes aside though mental health disorders such as depression are somewhat of an epidemic that can ruin the lives of people suffering with it. While there are a great number of treatments available from psychological therapies such as CBT to medications such as anti-depressants, exercise is a powerful weapon in your arsenal to tackle depression with no adverse side effects! Did you ever notice that ‘motion’ is even in the word “emotion” (you’ll never unsee that now). But how does exercise help us feel happier and lift us out of a depressed state? Here is one way… Serotonin.

What is serotonin?

We’ve all heard of it… Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a fancy pants name for a chemical messenger that helps nerve impulses travel and jump the gap from one nerve cell to another. Serotonin plays a role in several functions including mood, memory and learning.

SSRI or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor drugs such as citalopram and sertraline (commonly used to treat depression) work by basically increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. They stop it from being reabsorbed therefore making more of it available.

When you exercise you elevate tryptophan levels in the brain (this is an amino acid which is basically like a building block of protein, in case you were interested) and tryptophan is basically the biochemical Mother of serotonin. In other words, tryptophan gives birth to serotonin (so I’ll leave you to picture that analogy). Motor activity aka movement, increases both the manufacturing and release of serotonin and regular exercise may elevate tryptophan levels over time.

Wrap Up

So your brain has its own pharmacy you can tap into with exercise! How cool is that! Now maybe you’re reading this and thinking “I wouldn’t even know where to start”, “I’ve never stepped foot in a gym” or “I’m injured so I can’t exercise.” You’re definitely not alone, everyone was a beginner at some point and this is why we have trained professionals to help guide you through this process every step of the way. At The Physio Lounge we have everyone from Personal Trainers experienced with training clients with injuries and Physiotherapists (obviously) to help you overcome those injuries that are really blocking you from getting stuck in when it comes to exercise.

Whether it’s the going to the gym, playing footy or rock climbing, we all have our own type of therapy and it can really get us down when we can’t do the activities we love. So give us a shout and lets get you back in the game 🙂


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