The Hope Molecule

Feb 15, 2021

 by Stephen Conca

Movement is just as important as eating, sleeping, keeping up with daily hygiene, and pretty much any other activity you need to survive.

Exercise has countless benefits to your mental and physical health. It is more than just waking up for a 6 am workout or rushing to make the 5:30 pm class after work. The mind-body connection has incredible effects on a person’s wellbeing. Recent research has discovered “The Hope Molecule” is a crucial component to the mind-body connection.

Until this decade, no one has heard of "the Hope Molecule." New research has discovered these molecules, and it is directly related to exercise and movement. Muscles are classified as endocrine organs. Their purpose is much greater than using energy and supporting bones for movement. Our muscles act as a pharmacy. They store and manufacture chemicals that have profound effects on physical and mental health. These are known as myokines, “The Hope Molecule."

Myokines are produced when our muscles contract. Myo means muscles and kines means to set in motion by. There are countless types of myokines. Some of their benefits include improving heart function, building up the immune system, and helping to kill cancer cells.

The overview on the benefits of their function is that all forms help improve physical health and reduce risks of disease. Now, the biggest factor to consider is that these molecules are ONLY released with movement.

If our muscles do not contract, these molecules are not released. Both short and long term effects have significant benefits to your overall well being. The short term effect is that these myokines act as an immediate anti-anxiety coping mechanism. When a person becomes anxious, in many instances they will feel better once they move, or even just take a quick walk.

The long-term effects can lead to a change in brain structure which leads to a change in brain function. This allows the brain to become more resilient when under stress. This also helps to control emotions.

As discussed in the last post, this is the driving factor of the change from the fight or flight response to the challenge-response.

In conclusion, when you are moving your body and exercising, you are giving your body medicine! This is a form of medicine that can NOT be supplemented by taking a pill. The only way to give your body this form of medicine is MOVEMENT! This can be as simple as picking one song a day that you move to. If you pick one song that lasts about 3 minutes and you are moving throughout that whole song, you are providing your body with the medicine it needs to support your physical AND mental health. Your brain will begin to crave more than just 3 minutes! Put on your best playlist and GET FIRED UP! Here come more hope molecules!

A special thanks to our awesome Intern Jamie Jurtis for putting this post together.