The Lifestyle

Exercise Improves Mood

November 22, 2009
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Exercise is good for our mood. This we know this from experience and hearsay, and scientists agree. Exercising, they found, reduces depression and anxiety by releasing mood-lifting hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, and that’s not all it does to make us feel better. Exercise relaxes tensed up muscles, increases our body temperature (which according to experts reduces stress), takes our minds off problems we may be obsessing about, and gives us a sense of accomplishment.
It follows that different kinds of exercise work on us in different ways according to which physiological after-effects they’re best as producing. Running is famous for generating endorphins, yoga for relieving stress, lifting weights for making us feel better about ourselves, and simply going for a walk for brightening up our day.

Amy,_Emily,_between_FB_&_RB_edit-resized-600Does the Bar Method produce its own special mood enhancers? According to hundreds of students who have told me their personal stories, the answer is overwhelmingly yes. Here is one story from a San Francisco student named Tracy: “I’m turning 50 in September, but taking the Bar Method makes me feel much better about my newly approaching decade — physically, psychologically, and sensually,” she wrote me. “As a psychologist spending my days seeing patients and doing therapy, it’s been a most appreciated therapy for me.”

Another student named Cheryl had a similar outcome: “This is the first time in my life (and I am 43 years old) that I have felt this good about myself. I am short (5’3″), but Bar Method has made me feel taller, more lean and sculpted and even my posture is better. I have a positive self image now and feel great. ” A Los Angeles student in her 20s wrote in that “these classes are like magic!! They’ve helped keep me sane, limber, and mentally and physically happy too!”

My own experience as a new student of the Lotte Berk Method in the early 80s was dramatic. I was in my 30s and very shy. I also did not like the shape of my body. Yoga and jazzercise had not changed my body as much as I’d hoped, so I started Lotte Berk with only body sculpting in mind. I could not have predicted the enormous change in my state of mind I ended up with. After a few months of classes, a new, more confident and outgoing person began to emerge from my old persona. I got a better job, began to date, and eventually got married. Today after decades of classes, I credit The Lotte Berk Method, and the Bar Method after it, for transforming my self-esteem and spirits.

There are several components within The Lotte Berk and Bar Method workouts that appear to have a unique power to lift our spirits. First, for women at least, the Methods’ exercises fix physical problem areas that can cause private grief. Hips, inner thighs, seat muscles, posture: I know these female body issues get dealt with big-time in a Method workout making women feel and look and feel prettier and stronger.

Second, the interval training format used by the Bar Method generates a level of intensity even greater than you get with running or boot camp classes. (Read more about the benefits of Interval Training.) The feat of taking on such a challenge gives students a shot of empowerment along with a dose of endorphins generated by the intense exercise. When students walk out of the studio after finishing a class, they take with them both a new outlook and a measure of uplifting triumph. Add that to the serious stretching exercises performed throughout class, and it is clear how much stress reduction the classes offer.

I wasn’t surprised to learn recently that several rehab centers send their recovering patients to the Bar Method and Bar Method is a favorite among many AA communities. “Maybe it’s really sweating out toxins or more of a mental thing,” a young LA student speculated. “Whatever it is, it feels REALLY good.”

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