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Can cardiovascular exercise help improve mood?

Cardiovascular exercise does a lot more than just make you smarter. Heart-pumping activity is also an instant mood booster and has been shown to be as effective as prescription antidepressant medicine. Exercise activates the same pathways in the brain as morphine and increases the release of endorphins, natural feel-good neurotransmitters.

Getting your heart pumping also allows more of the natural mood-enhancing amino acid tryptophan to enter the brain. Tryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which balances moods. It is a relatively small amino acid, and it often has to compete with larger amino acids to cross the blood channels into the brain. With exercise, the muscles of the body utilize the larger amino acids and decrease the competition for tryptophan to enter the brain, which makes you feel better.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.