Jul 9, 2015

Exercise High

In the highly acclaimed BBC documentary, “Pleasure and Pain”. Dr. Michael Mosley surveyed crowds in Europe on things that, as the title would indicate, gave them the sensation of pleasure or the sensation of pain.

A wide variety of answers were received: some people indicated that playing with soft wax, bungee jumping, or eating the world’s hottest chillies gave them pleasure. At its conclusion, the documentary found that the top three catalysts for pleasure were chocolate at number three, sex at number two, and spending time with loved ones at number one.

While the results aren’t really surprising, all top three pleasure behaviors had one thing in common: forget diets, forget anti-depressants… each category of pleasure could be enhanced through simple exercise.

Eating chocolate is definitely pleasurable, but how many times have we had more than just one or two squares because it’s just SO good? With chocolate placing as the third top means for pleasure, it also has a high risk of overindulgence and can lead to subsequent feelings of guilt and self-deprecation. Fear not, the calorie intake can be easily cancelled out by an hour-long walk outdoors. At a brisk pace you can burn off the calories equivalent to a 50g chocolate bar. If you’re after weight loss you will still need to be expending more calories than you consume so stay out for a longer distance or, ideally, add in bouts of jogging. It’s a reasonable balancing act.

And how can time spent with loved ones be enhanced by exercise? Researchers at Bond University in Australia found that women who undertook regular, moderate, aerobic exercise showed significantly lower levels of negative mood statesmaking them a generally happier person to be around. Team sports have also been shown to contribute to an individual’s sense of belonging by helping them appreciate their worth as part of a group, and creating a closeness and camaraderie with other players. So why not head to the park with the family and challenge each other to a friendly match of soccer or football?

The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition recommends that healthy adults should complete a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise per week. That’s approximately thirty minutes of exercise a day to experience improvements in the best, most pleasurable, aspects of your life.

Time well spent I’d say!

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