Believe it or not, exercise is scientifically proven to boost happiness. Aside from the physical health benefits you receive from taking a jog or going for a bike ride, your mind also gets to reap the benefits. How exactly does exercise increase your happiness?
Exercise and Your Body
Happiness does have a physical component, as your body chemistry can increase or decrease your happiness. Exercise releases endorphins, or positive brain chemicals, into the body. Endorphins work to reduce the effects of stress, create a feeling of happiness and boost your immune system. Monoamines are also released by exercise and have been shown to aid the brain with processing stress and feelings of depression.
Exercise and Your Mind
A 2014 study examined individuals diagnosed with clinical depression who began exercising three times a week. The patients who committed to the exercise program and continued exercising experienced positive effects that outlasted those they received from antidepressants. Even better, the patients who continued exercising were also less likely to suffer future periods of depression. Exercise doesn’t just temporarily boost your happiness, it can actually help your brain be better equipped to cope with periods of stress, anxiety and anger.
Where to Start
Starting an exercise routine without any experience can be intimidating. Here are some simple ways to get started increasing your happiness with exercise:
- Sign up for an exercise class at your local community center to meet new people and increase your accountability
- Plan to exercise once or twice a week with a friend
- Go for a walk during your lunch break at work
- Do you enjoy hitting the gym in the morning? Put out your clothes and shoes the night before, along with your packed gym bag, to encourage yourself to go.
- Expand your view of what exercise is by taking a dance class
- Purchase a new set of exercise clothes that make you excited to work out
- Incorporate exercise into your weekends and vacations by visiting a park or planning a hike near your destination
Have you experienced a mood boost from exercising? Share your experience in the comments!