60 minutes of stationary biking is all it takes to lift my mental fog. My quads and calves ache, but my hopelessness fades. The doubts dissipate. The reflexes sharpen.
It’s a feeling very similar to what I always feel, when an aircraft climbs out of a dark cloud cover, and then, all at once, the cabin becomes awash in bright sunlight.
That I feel this way is no accident, but a biochemical reaction. Continuous aerobic exercise triggers the release of endorphin, a chemical found in our brain that acts as the body’s natural painkiller, but which, in greater dozes, energizes us.
This, in combination with a host of other neurochemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin, causes our mood to swing from gloomy to happy.