Does Working Out Give You Serotonin?

If you’re looking for a serotonin boost, you might be wondering if working out can help. We’ll take a look at the science behind this claim and see if there’s any truth to it.


Exercise is known to have a wide range of benefits, from reducing stress to promoting physical fitness. But, did you know that regular exercise can also support your mental wellbeing? Working out can increase the production of serotonin — a neurotransmitter involved in cognition, emotion, and other neurological processes— in the body. This article will explore the connection between physical activity and serotonin levels and provide insight into how exercise can give you an extra boost of this vital neurotransmitter.

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in regulating mood and behaviour. It is released during activities such as exercise, and is known to improve overall well-being and sense of contentment. Additionally, serotonin plays an important role in regulating sleep, memory, and learning. In this article, we will explore how working out can help to boost serotonin levels.

What are the Benefits of Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in the regulation of mood, social behavior, appetite, sleep, memory and learning. It is believed to impact feelings of happiness and well-being. Additionally, it may play an important part in regulating physical activity; indeed some research suggests that serotonin is released during exercise and may be responsible for runners’ highs.

The primary benefits of serotonin are thought to include better mood regulation, improved quality of sleep and enhanced focus. In addition, research suggests that increased levels of serotonin are associated with decreased levels of depression, anxiety and stress – while lower levels can result in irritability and negative thinking. As such, balancing serotonin levels could be an effective way to reduce the symptoms of depression or anxiety.

In addition to its essential role in regulating emotions and behavior, research also links serotonin with other health benefits. For example, studies have shown that higher levels may improve digestive health by relieving gastrointestinal spasms or encouraging healthy eating habits such as controlling food cravings or aiding satiation. Furthermore there is evidence suggesting that low levels are associated with obesity due to faulty regulation of hunger pangs and satiety signals from the brain.

Finally, regular exercise has been suggested as an effective way to regulate serotonin production for its mood-boosting properties; however further study into this theory is currently underway.

How Does Exercise Affect Serotonin Levels?

Exercise has been proven to have a positive effect on the brain and can promote the release of serotonin, the ‘feel good’ hormone. Serotonin plays a role in regulating mood, emotions, and other cognitive functions. Studies have shown that regular exercise can help boost serotonin levels, resulting in improved well-being. Let’s look at how exercise affects serotonin levels in detail.

What Types of Exercise Increase Serotonin Levels?

When it comes to increasing serotonin levels, not all forms of exercise are created equal. A wealth of research has identified that certain types of physical activity can be more effective at increasing the brain’s release of serotonin than traditional aerobic exercises like jogging or walking. Specifically, engaging in activities that require increased coordination, complexity and focus can be particularly good at enhancing serotonin levels.
Examples include:
-Calisthenics – exercises like sit ups and push ups offer an intense workout but require substantial coordination and a degree of precision, making them especially effective for releasing serotonin.
-Aerobics – exercising your body with jumping jacks, jumping rope and running are all great ways to increase your heart rate while boosting your mood.
-Weightlifting – this type of exercise helps build muscle mass and strength but also boosts coordination which stimulates the increase in serotonin production.
-Martial arts and yoga – by incorporating a variety of breathing techniques into martial arts and yoga practice you can learn how to control stress more effectively while calming your mind which has been proven to raise levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin.

Other Factors that Affect Serotonin Levels

Serotonin is an important chemical in the body because it helps control mood and happiness. Working out can increase your serotonin levels, but there are many other factors that can have an effect on it as well. For example, diet, stress, genetics, sunlight, and medication can all play a role in serotonin regulation. Let’s dive into the details to understand better how other factors influence serotonin levels.


Your diet plays a major role in the production of serotonin. Eating certain foods can increase serotonin levels while other foods can inhibit it. Consuming tryptophan-rich foods, such as eggs, cheese, poultry, and salmon, will help to boost serotonin. You should also consider adding sources of B vitamins—including whole grains, fortified cereals and nuts—because B vitamins are essential for the synthesis of serotonin. Additionally, dietary amino acids like DHA that are found in fatty fish such as tuna and sardines also help your body make serotonin. Generally speaking, a balanced diet including healthy carbohydrates is important for maintaining adequate levels of serotonin. Conversely, if you’re not getting enough nutrients from your diet or maybe you’re skipping meals or exercising too much without refueling your body appropriately then you could be impeding your brain’s ability to access the nutrients needed to make enough neurotransmitters.


Sleep is essential for good physical and mental health and plays an important role in regulating the serotonin levels in your body. When you sleep, your serotonin levels are reduced. However, this decrease helps balance your other brain chemicals, allowing the enzymes that produce serotonin to perform their regular activities more efficiently. A lack of sleep can lead to a disruption in our ability to maintain normal serotonin concentrations. Additionally, getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night is essential for good mental health as research has linked insufficient sleep to an increase in depression and anxiety symptoms.


Stress is an important factor in determining serotonin levels. This isn’t exactly news — we all know that stress can cause a range of physical and mental health issues. But it turns out that the correlation between stress and serotonin is a bit more nuanced than previously thought.

Studies have shown that acute stress, such as having a fight with your partner or getting stuck in traffic, actually causes an increase in serotonin levels. However, when this short-term stress passes, levels slowly return to their pre-stress levels. Chronic stress, however — long-term exposure to negative thinking patterns or difficult situations — has been linked to lower serotonin levels and higher rates of depression.

It’s important to note that though there’s some research suggesting a link between serotonin and exercise, the relationship isn’t completely understood, and further research is needed to better understand how exercise affects this neurotransmitter on both an acute and chronic basis.


The final conclusion is that there is likely a correlation between physical exercise and increased levels of serotonin. Despite this, the exact details are still being studied, and more research is needed to fully understand the link between exercise and serotonin levels. Exercise can certainly provide other mental health benefits, such as improved mood and better sleep, which could contribute to improved mental wellbeing. Ultimately, the best way to take care of your mental health is to lead a healthy lifestyle – this includes doing regular physical activity as well as eating healthy food and growing strong social connections with others in order for your brain to keep functioning optimally.

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