While walking through Central Park the other day my friend and I were debating the benefits of exercise. Like literally everything in life there are pros and cons to be considered.
We joked about the pained expressions on the faces of most of the joggers. We spoke of the glee in which orthopedists viewed the middle-aged and older exercise craze–business opportunities to repair / replace hips and knees ahead.
Yet we also knew that exercise can make you more serene in the face of life's adversities. The mechanism may be manifold.
I recently came across a NY Times article from November 18th 2009 on Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious. It was a fine review of animal experiments that essentially demonstrated how physical training resulted in animal brains producing neurons which were stress resistant.
Personally I can attest to the almost immediate consequence of a vigorous jog. Despite the pained expression on my face, once I catch my breath and stop sweating (takes a long time for me) I feel more calm. I believe that I have depleted my catecholamine store (adrenaline related) and therefore have less neurochemicals around to maintain any form of anxiety.
But in any case I believe the lesson here is this–exercise in moderation, it will benefit you on multiple levels including your serentiy quotient.
But be aware that too much of a good thing–is not a good thing. Unless you're an orthopedist.