Why Does Exercising Make You Cry?

Why Does Exercising Make You Cry?

Full disclosure… I’m a toughie. A warrior. A nothing-gonna-bring-me-down kind of gal. And I’m absolutely, definitely, in no way, shape or form a cryer. Nope. Not me. Don’t even try it. 

And yet, at the end of a recent Spin class I was teaching, I found myself breaking down and crying! I couldn’t explain it — there were some tears of joy, some of pain, a couple of gratitude, a dash of exhaustion — pretty much just a steaming stew of feelings! Needless to say, I was shocked. 

But after thinking about it a little harder, it kinda made sense. It’s certainly been one of the longest and toughest years in recent history, and as a gym owner, I know I’ve been holding onto the constant pressures of keeping my establishment open, putting money in my staff’s pockets, staying healthy, you name it! And when we work out particularly hard (which is the Studio SWEAT way, ya know), our bodies flush out all sorts of stuff – why wouldn’t our emotions get thrown in the mix? So, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month (and my little bout of blubbering – which felt amazing by the way), let’s talk about why working out can make us cry. 

Blame it on the Neurotransmitters

Now, we all know the benefits of exercise for mental health, but would you believe those same crazy chemicals that give us that runner’s high are also responsible for an explosion of emotion? It all comes down to neurotransmitters, the little chemical messengers our bodies produce like serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline. These all play a huge role in our moods, but also are related to our evolutionary fight-or-flight response. When you work out particularly hard (as you well should be!) your body is going to release a melange of different chemicals, all jumping and popping and swirling together, forming some pretty wild combinations. These can all lead to a major case of the feels

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Tearing Down the Walls

If you’re a non-stop go-getter like me, you know what it’s like to push yourself day and night — outta bed at the crack of dawn, burning midnight oil until the wee hours. The thing is, when we continue like this constantly, things start to add up. Maybe you don’t want to deal with those prickly emotions or off-putting feelings, so you just push them down. And then you push them down deeper, and deeper still. Until eventually, you burst! Part of why we love working out is that it grounds us and centers us — and that might lead to things we’ve been holding back to finally spill out into the world. 

Exercise Exacerbation

crying and working out

Sometimes, feelings of intense frustration can lead to us crying during our workouts. Maybe we’re trying a new type of exercise and can’t quite get the hang of it. Maybe that advanced-level workout challenge is a bit too challenging for us. Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone is always a great way to move past those plateaus, but yes, sometimes it can get to be a little much. In these situations, remember that feelings of frustration, annoyance, and confusion are all part of the learning process, and nothing to be ashamed of. 

What You Need to do About Workout Tears

Answer: not a damn thing! When you emotionally erupt at the end of a long, tough workout, see that as an amazing sign that you’re achieving something, reaching a milestone, letting something go. This is all just another sign of how positive exercise can be for your mental health. So the next time you find those tears welling up — let ‘em fly! You don’t even need a tissue, because the rest of you will probably already be soaked! 

By the way, if you’re looking for a place to sweat/sob, come on down to Studio SWEAT onDemand! Our huge library of streaming virtual workouts deliver the exhilaration of group fitness classes, right in your living room. If you wanna check us out, sign up for our 7-Day Free Trial today! 

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Comment - 1

  1. Daniel Casey - May 7, 2021
    Thanks Cat this is great. Glad to see I:m not the only one who periodically wells up with tears after a hard workout.

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