6 Reasons Why Exercise Makes You Happy
Krista Stryker is an NSCA certified personal trainer and the founder of 12-Minute Athlete, a website providing free, incredibly effective high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and awesome fitness motivation for athletes of all levels.
Sure, you know exercise is good for you. It keeps your weight in check, makes you stronger, and keeps you feeling youthful and staying active into old age.
But did you know that exercise can also make you a happier person? It's true.
When you work out and stay active on a regular basis, it's not just a coincidence that you feel less stressed out, less anxious, and generally happier.
Here are 6 reasons why exercise makes you happy:
1. It releases happy chemicals into your brain.
Dopamine, a chemical that plays a role in happiness, is a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s necessary for feelings of pleasure and happiness.
Many studies suggest that as we age, we’re constantly losing our stores of dopamine, which is why we need to constantly seek out experiences that release dopamine.
The best way to increase your brain’s dopamine production? Exercise. So run, lift, jump, play — and get happy.
2. It makes you less stressed out.
Not only will working out ease stress in the short term by helping you sweat out the day's worries, regular exercise will help you become less stressed out in the long term as well.
That’s because when you exercise, you’re actually subjecting yourself to a low-level form of stress by raising your heart rate and triggering a burst of hormonal changes. When you subject yourself to the stress of exercise enough, your body will eventually get better at handling the rest of life's stressors.
And less stress equals a happier, healthier life.
3. It energizes you.
You no doubt have days when you just feel too tired to exercise, when working out is the last thing in the world you want to do.
But no matter how exhausted you are from a long day at work, taking care of your family or recovering from a busy weekend, do your best to muster up all the willpower you have and still work out, because more likely than not, you'll feel more energized after your workout than you did before it.
So the next time you force yourself to get off the couch and get into workout mode, you’ll most likely feel more energized throughout the rest of the day. And more energy equals greater happiness.
4. It boosts your confidence.
When you don't feel good about your body or how you look, it's all too easy to have low self-esteem. And that can have a negative effect on all areas of your life including your relationships, your career, and your goals and aspirations.
But when you start to exercise and see your body transform, that can quickly change. Because exercise will not only make you like how you look, it will also make you feel stronger, more independent, and more confident. There's nothing like a boost in confidence to increase overall happiness.
5. It eases anxiety.
If you suffer from anxiety, exercise may be a simple cure.
Because recent studies on the effects of exercise show that in people suffering from anxiety, the immediate mood boost from exercise is followed by longer-term relief, similar to that offered by meditation and talk therapy.
So next time you’re feeling anxious, try a hard workout — you’ll feel happier for days on end.
6. It fights insomnia.
Trouble sleeping? Skip the sleeping pill and try exercising instead.
Staying active and exercising on a regular basis has been shown to improve sleeping problems of insomniacs and people with sleeping disorders. And not only can regular exercise significantly improve your sleep quality, it can also give you that pep that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning and do things.
And that equals greater happiness, every time.
Exercise, and be happy.
The next time you’re feeling down, stressed or anxious, get off the couch and get some exercise instead.
Because you'll not only feel more confident, energized, and calm — you’ll be a healthier and happier person for life.
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