LISTEN to today's conversation with Dr. Kelly McGonigal!
DR. KELLY MCGONIGAL
THE JOY OF MOVEMENT:
How exercise helps us find happiness,
hope, connection, and courage
Dr. McGonigal tells the stories of people who have found fulfillment and belonging through running, walking, dancing, swimming, weightlifting, and more, with examples that span the globe. From Tanzania, where one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes on the planet live, to a dance class at Juilliard for people with Parkinson's disease, to the streets of London, where volunteers combine fitness and community service, to races in the remote wilderness, where athletes push the limits of what a human can endure.
Through her trademark blend of science and storytelling, McGonigal draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology, as well as memoirs, ethnographies, and philosophers to clear up some common misconceptions about the brain on exercise.
Fascinating insights include:
· The so-called ‘runner’s high’ and other post-exercise satisfaction is more than just an endorphin rush
· During physical activity, muscles secrete hormones into your bloodstream that make your brain more resilient to stress. Scientists call them “hope molecules.”
· Physical activity is instinctual—our brains are designed to get us to move
· Exercise can remodel your brain in ways that make you more sensitive to pleasure and more open to social connection
· Movement can fulfill core human needs, like the desire to connect with nature or belong to something bigger than yourself
· Today’s most popular fitness trends harness both our individual strengths—the ability to persist, endure, learn and grow—and our capacity to work together
· How you move changes how you think and feel about yourself at a fundamental level – you can challenge inner self-critical voices through movement, and create a whole new sense of self built on strength and skill
· Exercise can improve treatment outcomes for depression, anxiety, and addiction
· Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to build trust and belonging in a community
People who are regularly active have a stronger sense of purpose, and they experience more gratitude, love, and hope. They feel more connected to their communities, and are less likely to suffer from loneliness or become depressed. These benefits are seen throughout the lifespan, apply to every socioeconomic strata, and appear to be culturally universal. Importantly, the psychological and social benefits of physical activity do not depend on any particular physical ability or health status, and they have been demonstrated in people with chronic pain, physical disabilities, serious mental and physical illnesses, and even among patients in hospice care. The joys described above— from hope and meaning to belonging— are linked first and foremost to movement, not to fitness.
THE JOY OF MOVEMENT is a revolutionary narrative that goes beyond familiar arguments in favor of exercise, to illustrate why movement is integral to both our happiness and our humanity. As McGonigal’s research shows here, movement is intertwined with some of the most basic human joys, including self-expression, social connection, and mastery--and it is a powerful antidote to the modern epidemics of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., is a research psychologist, a lecturer at Stanford University, and an award-winning science writer. She is the author of the international bestseller The Willpower Instinct, The Upside of Stress, and Yoga for Pain Relief. Her work has been published in twenty-eight languages. Since 2000, she has taught dance, yoga, and group exercise in the San Francisco Bay Area.