Many of us have someone in our lives who gets “hangry,” or angry when they are hungry. I personally don’t have this issue. But recently I realized I needed to coin a term for my similar issue. When I miss my daily workout, I’m liable to have what I call a “jerkout,” which means I get cranky from lack of movement!
Why do I “jerkout”? Exercise releases happy chemicals in your brain. In order for the brain to experience feelings of happiness, a neurotransmitter called dopamine is required. As we get older our dopamine stores are reduced. In order to restock these stores, we need to do activities that release dopamine in the brain. Exercise does just that by increasing the brain’s dopamine production. More dopamine means more smiles and more laughter!
Exercise also makes for less jerkiness because it reduces anxiety and stress.
Studies have shown that exercise reduces anxiety as well as meditation or other non-drug related therapies. And the best part is that it actually reduces anxiety for several days following. Additionally, exercise can aid in stress reduction because exercise creates low-level stress which raises the heart rate, signaling hormonal changes. These heart rate and hormone level changes from exercise are basic training for the body so over time the body’s reaction to the stressors of everyday life are reduced. Less anxiety and less stress equals a happier, healthier you.
How do you know if you’re suffering from a “jerkout”?
The next time you’re inexplicably cranky and you’re not hungry, ask yourself if you might be suffering from a “jerkout”. Test it with a workout. Take a walk, go for a run, or take a group fitness class, just get moving. If your mood improves after your workout, you just might be able to prevent further “jerkouts” with regular exercise.