Why does cardio improve my mental health much more than weight lifting?

Why does cardio improve my mental health much more than weight lifting?


If i do a few months of weight lifting it doesn’t really help with my mental health at all but a few months of cardio can have a pretty drastic effect. Why is this? Could it be that when i am weight lifting i tend to eat a bit more food and i gain a bit of body fat which in return boosts my cortisol levels whereas when i do cardio i tend to cut body fat and become leaner which reduces my cortisol levels?

5 thoughts on “Why does cardio improve my mental health much more than weight lifting?

  1. After 20 years of running almost daily, thinking I was some kind of addict because of the alert, yet calm and happy mood it gave me, I stumbled upon a book called “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” by John Ratey. It’s an easy read and gives some insight to your mood after cardio.

  2. The levels of chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, stress hormones and endorphins, change when you exercise. Regular exercise can help you sleep better. And good sleep helps you manage your mood. Exercise can improve your sense of control, coping ability and self-esteem.

  3. Studies on mice and humans indicate that cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells—a process called neurogenesis—and improve overall brain performance. It also prevents cognitive decline and memory loss by strengthening the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

  4. It was the main thing that helped with my severe depression years ago. After finishing an intense workout, my mood was definitely improved. I felt I had more control over my life. I was getting stronger, and slowly feeling better, week after week, month after month.

    I used in home workouts with simple dumbbells, resistance bands, a step, and body-weight exercises. I had videos, and created my own routines as well. I also did cardio workouts.

    I shudder to think of where I would be now, if I hadn’t started weight training all those years ago.

  5. Any kind of exercise, whether it’s cardio or weightlifting release endorphins throughout your brain and nervous system. Once released, they activate opiate receptors in the body, making you feel good.

    In addition, weightlifting and other forms of exercise can take your mind off other things, causing you to focus on the weightlifting itself. A lot of folks I know use weightlifting as a way to help with anxiety and/or frustration and anger.

    Lastly, weightlifting and exercise can cause you to feel a sense of accomplishment, like getting yourself healthy or losing some extra pounds, thus creating a positive body image.

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