The Joy of Movement: Neuroscience Explains the Rewards.

IMGPhoto by Marty Sohl. 

Happy National Dance Day, Everyone!!!

I am deeply inspired by the work of Stanford neuroscientist/psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD, and her book,  The Joy of Movement.  Did you know that movement is as essential to the human species as eating, drinking water, and sleeping?  We are rewarded highly for moving!  When we move our muscles secrete myokines, chemicals which stimulate healing throughout the body.  In the brain, myokines have an antidepressant effect leading to immediate feelings of joy and hope. Perhaps even more important, these myokines induce long term structural changes in the brain, up-regulating endocannabinoid, endorphin and dopamine receptors, thereby making one more receptive to feelings of joy and hope, and more resilient to stress, every day.

The brain becomes more open to feelings of joy and hope on an ongoing basis. What a fantastic incentive to keep moving!

This makes a lot of sense in terms of evolution, as survival depended greatly on the ability to move powerfully and frequently, hunting for prey, gathering foods, building shelter, moving away from predators. Our nervous system evolved to reward efforts to movement with positive feelings of joy and hope, to stimulate us to be active and and to stay alive. Knowing this, we can harness the power of our muscular exertion to elevate our mental health.

What tremendous power lies in the knowledge that we can change the structure of our brain through our actions. Science also explains how we can change the structure of our brain through the navigation of our thoughts, and the resultant transmission of messages between neurons. Positive mindset and intelligent movement create healthy, resilient brains and bodies for life.

Get fired up with joy and hope! Turn on your favorite music, enjoy nature, invite a friend,  celebrate the joy of movement, and feel your power!


Disclaimer; Coaching services and information on this site include education, guidance and tips on primal living and generally healthy movement. I am not a medical doctor and services are not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription that a physician, licensed dietitian, physical therapist or health care professional might recommend.

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