Lifestyle and mood: Can they all be good days? I go to a high-intensity exercise

class every day after work. When I feel overwhelmed and stressed out, it turns my mood completely around, and I feel like a million bucks.”

“I shouldn’t have blown up at that salesman, but the baby has kept us up every night this week. No sleep on top of work, I can hardly see straight.”

“When I have ice cream before bed, I sleep great and have the best dreams.”

These statements reflect our beliefs that health behaviors affect our daily energy level and mood. Most of our focus in health education seems to be on prevention of lifestyle-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. But lifestyle habits are easier to change when we realize they can help us feel better today, as well as prevent disease tomorrow. All of us would like to know why it is that some days we simply feel great. Is it hormones? Blood sugar? Biorhythms? Certainly lifestyle is only one part of the equation, but it is a part that you have some control over. A healthful lifestyle increases your stress resistance so the bad days are not quite so bad, and the good days are more attainable.

Exercise for physical and mental fitness
Regular physical activity has always been credited with increasing physical fitness. A growing body of research supports the notion that what affects our physical selves affects our psychological and emotional selves as well, and that physical activity enhances both mental and physical fitness.

Many people agree that aside from chemical substances, exercise is the most potent mood regulator. Physical activity may produce biochemical changes, provide a diversion from stress, build muscles, help you sleep better and help you look better. Many studies have shown that regular exercise improves one’s ability to tolerate stress and weather the winds of change without succumbing to stress-related illness.

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