Jeremy Bentham was a 17th century thinker who wrote a book titled, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. He opened the first chapter with the following sentence,”Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure.”

We live in a society of ostensible ease and we’ve been conditioned, through the constant barrage of ads, that the way to relief is to go to a doctor and swallow pill(s).

Anxiety, as seen from an evolutionary perspective, is a feeling that ideally creates some motivating behaviour to cope with a threatening situation. Both anxiety and depression seem to be increasing in populations around the globe.

The problem is that pills have side effects. They are part of the pain pleasure continuum that we all know exists as part of our nature, in other words they is an easy ‘fix’.

The fact that scientific studies have repeatedly demonstrated that exercise reduces anxiety and depression to the point of rivaling prescriptions for both conditions, has little bearing on how much we exercise because of that same continuum Bentham wrote about. Exercise can be a bit of a ‘pain’ to start, but it quickly turns into a pleasure with almost instant reductions in anxiety and depression.

Serotonin is a neuro-chemical found in the majority of animals and it is directly linked to mood. An increase in serotonin correlates with an increase in happiness and a reduction in anxiety. Exercise increases the production of serotonin and is a powerful nonpharmacologic way to significantly improve a person’s state of mind.

A recently published book titled, Exercise for mood and anxiety, speaks directly at the issue of improving our mental health through exercise – it works. The only obstacle is our ancient relationship with our sovereign masters. But remember, those who can – do; those who can’t make excuses…