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How the 6 Minute Workout increases neurochemicals of happiness and reduces depression

How the 6 Minute Workout increases neurochemicals of happiness and reduces depression

his article was inspired by AURUM clients who reported the feeling of being more “alive, uplifted, awake” and encouraged us to start a conversation with psychologists and psychotherapists in Zürich to consider extending AURUM’s benefits to people suffering from burnout and mood disorders such as depression, and associated low levels of energy and typically lack of motivation for any physical activity.

Our brain has a wellspring of self-produced neurochemicals that turn the pursuits and struggles of life into pleasure and make us feel happy when we achieve them. With physical activity and lifestyle choices laid out in this article, you have the power to naturally boost the production of the 5 brain molecules that make you feel happier:

1. Serotonin, or how workouts help you boost your confidence

Serotonin plays so many different roles in our bodies that it is really tough to tag it. For the sake of the practical application let‘s call it “The Confidence Molecule.” Ultimately the link between higher serotonin and a lack of rejection sensitivity allows people to put themselves in situations that will bolster self-esteem, increase feelings of worthiness and create a sense of belonging.

To increase serotonin, challenge yourself regularly and pursue things that reinforce a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Being able to say "I did it!" produces a feedback loop that reinforces behaviours that build self-esteem, makes you feel less insecure and create an upward spiral of more and more serotonin. And this does not depend on your age. So, young or old, your body can produce serotonin.

2. Dopamine, or the post-workout reward

Dopamine is responsible for reward-driven behaviour and pleasure-seeking. Every type of reward-seeking behaviour that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain. The brain releases it when we eat food or when we achieve a higher output during the strength training workout. If you want to get a hit of dopamine, set a goal, quantify and achieve it.

You experience a dopamine rush everytime you beat yourself with a better Aurum Score.

3. Endorphins, or the euphoria and stress fighting chemical

Endorphins are the brain chemicals that fight stress and resemble opiates in their chemical structure with analgesic properties. Endorphins are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during strenuous physical exertion. Endorphins are connected to the "feeling no pain but excitement" aspect of aerobic exercise and are produced in larger quantities during high intensity "anaerobic" cardio and strength training.

4. Endocannabinoids, or having a post-workout bliss moment

Endocannabinoids are self-produced cannabis like substances that works on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors of the cannabinoid system. The assumption is that each of these acts like a key that slips into a different lock of the cannabinoid system and alters perceptions and states of consciousness in various ways.

A study at the University of Arizona, argues that endocannabinoids are just like endorphins acting like an opioid release and so most likely the cause for the euphoric feeling (the „runner's high“) and the "everything will be just fine" feeling.

5. GABA, or the natural anti-anxiety and recovery remedy

Think of that feeling when at the SPA, deeply relaxed. GABA is an inhibitory molecule that slows down the firing of neurons and creates a sense of calmness. If you’ve been taking anti-depressants, you might know that benzodiazepines (such as Xanax) are sedatives that work as anti-anxiety medication by increasing GABA.

A study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found a 27% increase in GABA levels among yoga practitioners after a 60-minute yoga session when compared against participants who read a book for 60 minutes. While it’s known that you can increase GABA naturally by practising yoga or meditation, scientists also found that vigorous exercise such as the High Intensity Strength Training increases the levels of GABA. Also, the post-workout exhaustion enables deeper rest and relaxation afterwards.

With High Intensity Strength Training, you can stimulate the production of all 5 neurochemicals of happiness! But why AURUM?

The AURUM 6 Minute Workout and its impact on the biochemistry of happiness

The AURUM workout is performed with a personal coach using Muscle-Mind Isokinetic Machines. Basically, a training technology that quantifies your performance and is designed to get you maximum physical and mental benefits in the shortest time possible without compromising safety:

  • Hormones: The AURUM workout stimulates the release and production of HGH, testosterone, cortisol, catecholamines (dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine), endorphins, irisin and reduces oestrogen as a result of increased fat burn and muscle growth.
  • Resilience: Whereas frequent medium intensity training exhausts the body, short HIT strength training at optimal intensity increases the individual threshold to handle stressful & challenging situations thanks to the processes of allostasis and homeostasis, which refers to our body’s ability to adapt and respond to stressors Julian and Philipp have written more on that. In fact, another chemical that is shown to help relieve stress and boost happiness are myokines, which your body releases into the blood when your muscles contract.

According to psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal "(...) myokines begin to change the function and structure of your brain in ways that make you more resilient to stress and can help people recover from depression and even anxiety disorders."

  • Instant presence: thanks to intensity, the client needs to shift from being compulsively in their heads into the present moment, a state of “fight or flight” that uses the parasympathetic nervous system, also a state of “letting go of anything that doesn’t serve” in the moment. Besides, resistance and not weight-based HIT workout ensures low impact on joints and maximum safety.

How does the AURUM HIT workout activate the sympathetic nervous system?

Psychologically, we need a goal that we are working towards. During the 6 Minute Workout, your goal is to exceed the output of your last training.

  • Every time you compete with your last personal best, you see a visual representation of your goal and the performance you are achieving at every moment on the screen in front of you. The visual input to your eyes “I had a better performance in the first repetition last time” acts as a stimulus to your nervous system.
  • With data clearly displayed in front of you and the time under load (see Workout Principle 1), you cross the mental borders that you thought are fixed and you do it again and again, experiencing a dopamine, endorphin and serotonin rush. Your brain processes it and acts upon it: You might feel at this moment that this is not everything that you can give but your brain tells you via the nervous system to give a little more. In this case, more motor units - nerves and muscle fibres - are activated, resulting in increased performance, instant happiness hormone production and fat burn afterwards.
  • You are able to do this because all the 3 elements are in sync: the sensual, the cognitive and the physical. Knowing that the personal coach guides you throughout the workout and that you are the one to define the intensity makes the workout optimal for everyone's individual ability, which often varies from day to day.

Over time, the AURUM workout not only leads to constantly expanding mental borders but also to higher connectivity between the nervous system and the muscle fibers. As a result, your resilience increases. It's difficult to describe the experience.

Give it a try. It doesn't cost anything but 20 minutes of your time.

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