News - 16th April 2021

The Real Happy Pill


We all know that exercise is good for us, don’t we? But why exactly? And if that’s the case, why aren’t we all doing more of it?
In recent years, one of the most widely talked about books has been ‘Hjärnstark’ by the psychiatrist Anders Hansen (In English the book has the title ‘The Real Happy Pill – Power up your brain by moving your body’). In it he compiles research regarding brain development and physical activity, and argues that the benefits of physical activity are so extensive that you could basically call it a ‘mental upgrade’. Whether it is related to developing creativity, improving memory or reducing stress, he points to studies which demonstrate what a huge impact exercise can have on the brain, as well as of course benefiting our physical condition.
Happy pill
And it’s not just long, hard runs that count – as long as you are out exercising, whether that is walking, jogging or running then you will be reaping the benefits.
In his recent podcast on the Swedish radio P1 ‘Sommarpratarna’ he develops this topic, but also looks at other issues affecting society today such rapid increase of screen time in our lives (his new book, ‘Skärmhjärnan’, covers this topic), the partially related sleep deprivation that is so prevalent in the modern world, and the feelings of loneliness and isolation that so many people feel today, despite the fact that social media is supposed to be ‘connecting’ us.
He emphasises the importance of actual physical social interaction, not just the online world which we inhabit for so much of our lives these days. Meeting and connecting with people is vital for our wellbeing and our mental health.
So much of this talk chimed in with what parkrun stands for – fun, physical activity, outside in the beautiful nature, with family, friends and other like-minded people. We know that parkrun inspires people around the world to become active, and this excellent book performs a similar task of motivating people to take the first tentative steps on the road to exercise and becoming a healthier person, in body and mind. And we think that there’s no better place to start than your local parkrun this Saturday!
For English speakers, here is a link to a TEDxtalk that he did a couple of years ago on this topic.

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