10 Proven Ways How Exercise Can Boost Your Happiness

Blood flow is increased to the brain from exercise and this releases endorphins, the body’s natural antidepressant. Other similar neurotransmitters are also released, such as serotonin, which improve your mood. Endorphins interact with the brain’s receptors that control the perception of pain; they also activate a positive, happy feeling similar to that of morphine. Exercise boosts the action of these endorphins. Exercise also stimulates norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter which can help improve mood.[1]

In a nutshell: Exercise affects the same receptors as antidepressant medication, but exercise also increases feelings of accomplishment and self-worth. You experience a series of “small wins” each time you complete a set, an exercise or workout and you look forward to the next.

fitness quote

Exercise can relieve, or at the very least, help you cope with stress. After a stress filled day at work, school or on the freeway, exercise can quickly help relieve the resulting frustration. Exercise also relieves that mounting tension, anxiety and anger that accompany your stress. Exercise will immediately take the mind off any problems as you focus your physical activity. The repetition and rhythm of exercise have a soothing effect very similar to meditation. If your exercise requires concentration and coordinated movements, focusing will promote calmness and clarity. As you exercise, your heart rate increases, as do circulation and the flow of oxygen to your brain. Your brain will reward you with endorphins, the “feel-good” neurotransmitters that provide a sense of well-being and euphoria.[2]

In a nutshell: Stress, if not alleviated by exercise, will lead to stress eating and episodes of emotional binge eating. Hop on the treadmill instead. As you continue to exercise improving your health and physical wellness, you’ll have less to stress about.

3. Prevents insomnia

Is it possible to fall asleep faster and wake up more rested? Exercise improves both sleep quality and sleep duration. Exercise lifts your mood and reduces stress, allowing you to clear your mind and fall asleep sooner. Regular, scheduled exercise strengthens your circadian rhythms, and promotes daytime alertness and sleepiness at night.[3]

In a nutshell: To help you sleep, exercise earlier in the day as intense exercise just before bedtime can interfere with your sleep. If you exercise earlier in the day, it can help improve your alertness when you need it most and promote better sleep at night.

4. Boosts confidence

In simplest terms, your confidence is boosted because you feel better. You become more relaxed and confident as your lungs and heart become more efficient and stronger. You experience less joint pain and shortness of breath and soon your clothes fit better as your waist shrinks.

In a nutshell: Regular, frequent exercise will improve your self image and confidence[4], you will also experience:

  • A sense of achievement. Exercise increases your personal worth and sense of accomplishment as you take positive steps to improve your body and health.
  • Improved appearance. Exercise improves your body and your body image. You will stand straighter, taller and smile more often. You will feel more attractive and happy about how you look, increasing self-confidence.
  • Positive mindset. Exercise erases negative thinking and improves your attitude and mindset.
  • Exercise allows you to feel in control of your body and your health.
  • Promotes socialization. In the gym, the park, or at your yoga or dance class, exercise gives you an opportunity to meet people and socialize which adds to your confidence.
  • Provides competition. Exercising allows you to compete and challenge yourself or others. Exceeding your limits boosts your confidence level. Winning, even more so.
  • Improved sexual performance. Exercise improves sexual stamina and sexual performance providing both your ego and self confidence a boost.

5. Anxiety reducer

The benefits of exercise extend beyond the relief of stress to include reducing anxiety and anxiety related disorders. A short brisk walk of 10 minutes may be just as effective as a 45 minute gym workout when it comes to anxiety relief. Exercise works quickly to improve your mood and outlook. Physically active people are happier and experience less anxiety than sedentary people.[5] The same brain response to neurotransmitters that help cope with stress and depression also help with overcoming anxiety. Exercise diverts your focus, burns unused energy, and uses up any excess cortisol in the bloodstream.

In a nutshell: Develop your exercise and fitness training plan and follow it. Exercise will provide the benefits listed in addition to improving the length and quality of your sleep, further reducing anxiety. Any exercise is good exercise, using your muscles and your heart, even at a relaxed pace will help reduce your anxiety symptoms.

6. Energy booster

Exercise improves energy levels by improving your circulation and the health of your heart muscle, in return you experience improved energy levels. One of the most effective methods for boosting your energy and eliminating fatigue is to exercise more. Research has proven that exercising regularly can even help increase energy levels in individuals with chronic health issues including fatigue.[6]

In a nutshell: Need an energy boost? Increasing your activity level moderately will boost energy levels.

7. Mood booster

Whenever you need to lighten your mood, go for a run, ride your bike or hit the gym. You’ll be working out your body and you’ll feel better afterwards. Stress, anxiety, depression, they all come together here. The combination of these stressors directly affect your mood and can be improved through exercise. Exercise boosts the production of the “happy” chemicals in your brain, the “feel good” chemicals, endorphins and serotonin.[7] Exercise helps to take the mind off anxious and unhappy thoughts. Whether you’re trying to kick a soccer ball, lift a barbell or trying to hold a yoga pose, you’re focused on the activity rather than on any stressors. Your improved sleep and increased energy levels will help you feel better.

In a nutshell: Through the combination of factors outlined here, exercise makes you happy. It should be a part of your life.

8. Prevents cognitive decline

Exercise helps us stay younger, longer. Physical activity has been proven to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline, especially cardiovascular exercise which elevates the heart rate and increases oxygenated blood flow to the brain and body. According to research, regular physical exercise can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent.Exercise can also delay any further deterioration in individuals who have already begun to develop cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s.[9]

In a nutshell: Exercise helps your body physically, and emotionally, now we see that it can prevent the loss of memory and brain function as we grow older. Exercise can prevent premature senility.

9. Makes you smarter

Exercise clears your mind and sharpens your focus as you send more oxygen to your brain. Exercise also promotes the growth of new brain cells in two ways. Increased blood circulation to the brain promotesneurogenesis, the production of new brain cells. Exercise also stimulates the increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, a protein that “fertilizes” new brain cells.[10]

In a nutshell: Include cardiovascular workouts in your training program to increase oxygen to the brain. Regardless of the type of training you choose, make sure you breathe deeply and stay oxygenated.

10. Strengthens relationships

Couples who train together build a healthier relationship.[11] They will learn to support each other throughout their training sessions, they will also learn to face new challenges together, from lifting a heavy weight to climbing a rock wall. As they meet these challenges, they will develop a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie. A couple who exercises together will stimulate blood flow to the entire body and in turn increase feelings of intimacy and increase both individuals sex drive.

In a nutshell: Exercise with your partner to build a healthier relationship as a couple, exercise with your family to bring your family closer together and build a healthier family unit.
The Happiness Effect Infographic

Image Source: Health Central

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *