Exercise and Its Effects on Serotonin & Dopamine Levels

Serotonin and dopamine are chemicals produced in the brain -- neurotransmitters -- that improve mood and protect against mental health disorders. Serotonin, which is produced by long-term cardio exercise, decreases depression and hostility, and improves agreeable social behavior. Dopamine improves your mood and long-term memory. It stimulates highly pleasurable feelings in the brain and could contribute to what is called "runners high."

A happy woman is running. (Image: michaeljung/iStock/Getty Images)

Feel-Good Hormones from Cardio

Cardio exercise produces increased serotonin levels when done to the point of physical and possibly mental fatigue, explained by J.M. Davis, et al., in an article for the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." Although animal studies have shown an increase in dopamine levels from intense cardio exercise, a study by Gene-Jack Wang of the Brookhaven National Laboratory using humans did not show an increase after 30 minutes of cardio exercise with a 10-minute cool down. According to David J. Linden, Ph.D., in an article for "Psychology Today," the results of animal tests suggest that humans could also experience increased dopamine release from exercise done at a higher intensity than in the Wang test.

Load Comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.