(Jacob Rumans) #1
‘Wecan provokethe
feelgood chemicalsin our
brain through exercise’


themselves around out of a sense of obligation, are
more likely to wolf down junk food afterwards. In
one study, half of the women in a group were sent
on a walk for “exercise” while the other half were
told their walk was “for fun”. They were then given
unlimited access to M&Ms. The “for exercise”
group ate twice as many as the “for fun” group.’

‘It makes sense. As soon as I stopped caring about
the graduation to size 12, I started enjoying exercise
again. I started noticing once more how running has
the ability to take my mood from a four to an eight,
rather than thinking, “I’ve only run 5km, need to run
more to lose the tapas I ate last night!” Running is,
for me, mental alchemy. Pre-run I will be slouching
about, thinking, “Life not fair. Hate life.” Mid-run,
I am bowling down a country lane, air-drumming
to Metallica’s Enter Sandman. Postrun, I feel as if
liquid gold is running through my veins.
‘When my size became irrelevant once more,
I remembered how I sleep like a sparked-out
toddler after a swim, rather than bullying myself
into doing a kilometre in the pool. And I recalled
that yoga is like a mini-break for my manic mind,
rather than “work” for my core. And hey presto:
I started exercising five times a week again.’

‘The reason exercise has the ability to lift our mood
so dramatically is because it is a smash-grab at the
pharmacy of feelgood chemicals that already exist
in our brain. Drugs and pills work because they tap
into things that are already there. We can provoke
them naturally through exercise, says neuroscientist
Dr Korb from the University of Colorado, US.
“Endorphins are the brain’s own form of
morphine,” he says, “while endocannabinoids are
the brain’s own form of cannabis.” We don’t need
a dealer or a prescription to
get high. All we need is to
move our bodies, with the
motive of feeling good, rather
than looking good.’

The Unexpected Joy of the
Ordinary by Catherine Gray
(Aster, £14.99) is out now.
Free download pdf