Many people are of the impression that exercise is just a way to improve your physical health or make you stronger. People that exercise and stay in shape consistently report higher levels of happiness. But what is it about exercise that makes you happy? Physical improvement and increasing strength are indeed very worthwhile outcomes of working out regularly, but I would like to show you how exercise can also make you happy.
Stimulates feel-good endorphins
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins — chemicals that make you feel good by stimulating parts of the brain that are involved in feelings like satisfaction and happiness. Endorphins are usually associated with feelings of euphoria after an intense workout, but they can also be released during lower-intensity workouts such as walking or stretching if you're doing them for long enough (10 minutes or more).
Helps manage stress
When we're stressed out, our bodies release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones put us on high alert so we can respond quickly to a stressful situation. But when this happens too often, it can lead to health problems like high blood pressure or heart disease. Exercise helps manage stress by releasing endorphins which act as natural painkillers and reduce anxiety levels — two powerful stress relievers!
Exercise also gives you energy and makes you feel stronger and more confident. When people are physically active, they're more likely to do well at university or work because they feel good about themselves. They also have more energy when they're working out and are less likely to become tired or stressed out by their daily activities.
Exercise boosts self-confidence because it makes people feel better about themselves — both mentally and physically. But exercise isn't just good for mental health; it's good for physical health as well!
Distracts from worries and negative thoughts
Researchers found that people who exercised experienced fewer negative thoughts than people who didn't exercise. The researchers also found that when people did experience negative thoughts while they were exercising, they tended to be less intense than usual — meaning that exercise helped dampen negative emotions even when they arose during an activity designed specifically to make you happy!
Boosts sleep quality
Getting enough sleep is crucial for our health. It allows our bodies to recover from the day's stresses, but it also gives our brains a chance to process all the information we have learned during the day.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to many conditions, including obesity and heart disease. Studies have also shown that people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to develop dementia.
Studies show that regular physical activity helps improve sleep quality by reducing daytime fatigue, improving sleep efficiency (the percentage of time spent sleeping), and increasing the amount of time spent in deep sleep.
Exercise is a great way to de-stress and relieve the daily pressures of your life. It helps you sleep better too. Exercise releases endorphins, which are substances in the brain that make you feel good. There are also supplements like GABA that gives a calming effect. This helps promote relaxation.
Eases anxiety and depression
Exercise is one of the best ways to fight anxiety. The physical benefits of exercise are well-documented, but research has also shown that it can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. One study found that people who participated in an aerobic exercise program had less anxiety and depression than those who didn't exercise.
Helps you develop coping strategies
When you're feeling down, exercise can be a great way to boost your mood. It releases endorphins, which make you feel good, and it can help you develop the skills to cope with stress in the future.
Exercise is an important part of healthy living. It's not just about losing weight or looking good; it's about overall health. If you aren't exercising regularly, start slowly and work your way up until you're doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week.
You don't have to be an athlete or go to a gym if you don't want to — walking for 30 minutes or doing yoga once or twice a week will give you many of the same benefits as more intense exercise programs.
Although exercise isn't strictly a method of becoming happy, it is one of the best things you can do for your overall mental well-being. Spending time each day on physical activity is much more than just exercise. It's an outlet. It's a reward system. It also provides self-worth and confidence that transfers to life outside the gym.
If you read this blog post thinking, "this won't apply to me", or "I'll give these tips a try when I get around to it", then you would be doing yourself a huge favour by starting right now with something like walking around the block, going for a bike ride, or hitting your favourite stairwell once a day. Baby steps are still steps forward!