20 minutes of exercise…it’s not enough, right? But wait, it is!
Imagine this- you’re sitting at your desk at work and your boss throws another pile of papers in front of you to get done by 5 pm (3rd stack of papers in the last 2 hours)- believe me, we’ve all been there. Your heart begins to race (thanks to fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline) and your palms begin to sweat because you’ve got important plans tonight that you’re now probably going to have to blow off. At this point, your blood levels of cortisol- the stress hormone are beginning to rise and your blood sugar is beginning to go up as well (a response to the fight-or-flight system).
You realize that this event is making you feel flustered, your stressed and feel like you’re now in a bad mood. You suddenly realize that you have 30 minutes for lunch (and due to your current state you can’t seem to get your work done); so the question is should you go downstairs for a 20 minute workout, but is there any benefit to a 20 minute workout?
The answer is yes- there is benefit to a 20 minute workout, and yes, you should go hop to it; in fact, researchers found that 20 minutes of working out can help to promote better mood for up to 12 hours after you’ve finished exercising.
So if you’re still contemplating, here’s 5 reasons why 20 minutes of exercise can boost your mood.
1. It’s energizing:
The unfortunate reality of working today is that we sit most of the time, which can make us feel tired and sluggish. Even 20 minutes of exercise can get us up and get our blood flowing- which helps to promote energy and mental clarity (a.k.a you get your work done faster and more efficiently)
2. Helps to lower stress hormone cortisol:
Some stress is good, but too much isn’t good for us. When we have ongoing stress (and/or not enough sleep), our bodies release cortisol – a stress hormone that can cause blood sugar to be elevated, may disrupt work productivity, can disrupt sleep and more. In short, less cortisol is a good thing for happiness and productivity.
3. Promotes release of feel-good brain chemicals:
Even with 20 minutes of exercise, mood can be boosted because chemicals like serotonin and dopamine are released. Additionally another chemical called endocannabioids (similar to cannabis) is released that can promote well-being.
4. Promotes healthy brain long-term:
Even with 20 minutes of exercise, both neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine released with exercise, but also a chemical called neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is also released. BDNF can also help to protect the brain from emotional disorders and depression caused by stress long-term. Also a major plus!
5. Promotes relaxation and stress relief:
Finally, even though it’s only 20 minutes of exercise, the brain produces a hormone called gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA to be released. GABA is a key neurohormone that helps to promote relaxation and also prompts serotonin (again, that feel good hormone) to be released as well.