This article originally appeared in Shape.com.
When it comes to the physical health perks of exercise, you could probably rattle off a dozen benefits. But the mental health effects of working out are just as profound, making us happier, less stressed, and more resilient, says Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., author of The Joy of Movement. Here, she explains the incredibly powerful muscle-mind connection.
"How much our muscles influence our psychological and brain health. Science shows that when you move your body, your muscles release chemicals known as myokines into your bloodstream that improve your mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and make your brain more resilient to stress. I call them 'hope molecules.'
Your muscles will do this no matter what activity you choose to do: dancing, lifting weights, walking, swimming. As long as you’re using your muscles, they’re essentially a pharmacy of molecules that are good for your mental health. That is absolutely mind-blowing."