Today we want to surprise you with an input of a slightly different kind, but about a topic that is very close to our hearts.
Joy of Movement is something we have been working on for a very long time and is basically the core of all our initiatives.
When we recently stumbled across the book “The Joy of Movement. How exercise helps us find Happiness, Hope, Connection and Courage” by bestselling author Kelly McConigal, we just couldn’t ignore it and want to give you a brief insight here.
The fact that exercise and movement not only bring physical benefits, but also have a positive effect on our mood and make us feel happier or more confident is certainly not new to many. But the author, who is a research psychologist, provides some great insights and gives us a glimpse into the reasons why doing sports affects our mood and mental health. In doing so, she manages to weave together the results of scientific studies and the experiences of people from different life contexts in a very fascinating way.
The book tries to introduce us to various interesting lessons. Among other things, the author takes a look at the so-called “runner’s high”, in which endocannabinoids are released, chemicals in our brain that reduce pain, improve mood, and trigger positive neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins. But on top of that, these chemicals can help us ward off mental illnesses like depression and anxiety and even improve the way we interact with other people. And the best part is, that it is not even limited to running, but instead can be achieved with any moderate physical activity that requires some persistence.
In addition, the author shows us that human brains can become addicted to working out (similar to drug addiction, only with positive results), she explored that synchronized workouts can give us greater satisfaction or looked at the research that characterises music as a performance enhancing factor and working out in nature as a way to connect with oneself.
Finally, the author underlines these scientific findings with a number of very personal stories, for example of people who have regained their mental strength after severe losses with the help of training for an ultramarathon or who have been able to significantly improve their cognitive and physical performance after severe illnesses such as paralysis or Parkinson’s disease with the help of so-called “hope molecules” generated by movement.
As this was just a small overview of all the benefits that exercise provides for our mental health and overall happiness, the message we take away from this is one that we have known for a long time but will never get tired to reinforce: JUST MOVE!
Regardless of the type of movement, your overall fitness level or the respective physical and mental life circumstances – give a regular level of movement the chance to make you happy!
Bibliography: McGonigal, Kelly. The Joy of Movement: How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage. Penguin, 2019.