Exercise and Happiness
Exercise has many impressive benefits such as a younger-looking stronger body, improved memory, higher IQ, increased balance and agility, healthier self-esteem, stronger bones, reduced risk of cancer and heart disease, etc. Indeed, physical activity has many well-known positive effects, but did you know that exercise can actually make you feel happier? According to researchers at the University of Vermont, "The mood benefits of just 20 minutes of exercise can last 12 hours."
In general, people are more likely to work out when they are in a neutral mood, but studies show that exercise has the strongest effect on our mental state when we work out in a bad mood. This is because exercise produces endorphins, which are hormones that make us feel happy. Physical activity also reduces our levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, thereby making life's problems seem far less overwhelming.
Exercise is a proven and effective method of reducing depression, stress, and anxiety. Researchers at the University of North Carolina even calculated that "19% of divorces might be avoided if both partners ran regularly, thanks to exercise-based declines in anger." So the next time you feel upset, instead of reaching for coffee, or chocolate, or putting on a movie to distract yourself, hit the gym and go lift some weights. Walking in nature by yourself or with a friend will also do the trick. Exercise is a safe and natural anti-depressant that has only positive side-effects. This awesome mood-lifting technique is important to know about and use.
Reynolds, G, (2012) The First 20 minutes. New Yourk, N.Y, Penguin
www.happify.com (accessed June 22, 2015)
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