Exercise, Endorphins, & Anxiety

by: Ashley Roman

"Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just dont shoot their husbands, they just dont."


Every time I go to the gym and leave feeling awesome, I say this quote to myself in my head. It's not on purpose, it's like an involuntary thing that I'm slightly embarrassed about.

I am a woman; therefore, like most women, I have body insecurities. I've had these insecurities since I was six or seven. I can remember being in first grade and not liking things about myself- how sad! Everything amplified in middle school and then high school. My friends and I basically thought it was cool to skip lunch. Eating anything meant we were just consuming too many calories. Totally logical, right?

Today I can honestly say I love myself. Do I love everything about my body? Nope. I wish I did. It doesn't matter how many times my husband tells me I'm beautiful, sexy, perfect. I'm not satisfied.

After graduating college and getting married I gained some weight. Seventeen pounds to be exact. But who's counting...? I was shocked, angry, mortified, disgusted with myself when the doctor told me the news. How can this little number have so much power over my life? Over our lives?

That was around two months ago. Since that day I have been faithfully going to the gym. I've lost a little weight, but that doesn't really matter as much to me now. I feel amazing. Exercise helps me feel great about myself no matter what the scale says. It also helps with my stress and anxiety levels tremendously. I do some of my finer thinking while I'm plowing around the indoor track.

Two years ago my doctor told me the solution to an anxiety disorder was exercise. She said if I like to run a mile, now it's time for me to run five. I didn't fully embrace her advice. I stuck to my yoga class routine, not noticing much difference. It has taken me almost two years to realize the necessity of hot and sweaty exercise in my life. (disclaimer- I do not, and cannot, run five miles).

Maybe you remember a little bit about hormones and how they basically run your body. Maybe not. When you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are known as the 'feel good hormone'. They trigger a positive feeling in the body and reduce the reception of pain. They are known to decrease the feelings of anxiety and depression. And let me tell you, it works.

When I was in the midst of feeling awful, I went for two or three walks every day. It's the only thing that provided me relief.

When you are depressed or anxious the last thing you want to do is put on a sports bra and go for a run. If you can get yourself dressed, you are half way there. You won't regret it afterwards.

For more scientific information about endorphins and the powerful role they play in your body, check out this article here.

I would love to, and probably will, share more about body insecurities and weight issues. But not today.

I want to share what I know works.

Exercise works.

Next time you're feeling especially anxious go to the gym, go for a walk. Do something. Nothing we do has to be perfect. All we have to do is try our best, and let God fill in the gaps.