Let’s exercise our way to Happiness

 “Happiness is not a fitness goal; it is a by-product of taking care of yourself.” – Felicity Luckey

We all know it –exercising regularly promotes good health. While we hate the thought of sweat, treadmill and sit-ups, exercise may be more than just good for health. Some research suggests that there is a link between fitness and happiness.

Can we exercise ourselves to happiness?

Let’s take a look!

Happiness is pretty subjective. It has a lot to do with genetics as well as factors like income, marital status, religion, and education. However, the biggest factor for happiness is health. The ability to ward off sickness and disease, maintain a hormonal balance, and manage stress, all contribute to contentment and ultimately happiness. That’s the foremost reason fit people might be happier than the rest of us.

  • Exercise stimulates the production of disease-fighting antibodies, which destroy bacteria and viruses in the body. So those people who stay physically active are generally better equipped to fight sickness and stress.
  • During exercise, the brain also releases endorphins which produce feelings of euphoria. Endorphins enhance mood and create a sense of well-being. Exercise can also boost happiness levels by helping to reduce stress. Too much stress, and high cortisol levels, can increase feelings of nervousness and anxiety while decreasing motivation and immune function.When we exercise, our bodies burn the stress hormone cortisol.
  • It’s not clear that a certain amount of exercise can guarantee happiness, or even a short-term high. Some scientists say just 30 minutes of light exercise can help reduce depression and anger.

Exercise may contribute to happiness, but it’s not the only cause of a smiling face. While fitness, exercise and physical activity contributes to our sense of well-being, it’s also important to have a sense of belonging and purpose, financial security, and positive social interactions with family and friends.

It might also be true that happy people tend to exercise more than others and that working out doesn’t necessarily make them happy. Conversely, depressed people often fall into a cycle in which they avoid exercise, then feel sadder, and then really don’t want to exercise; and it can be hard to find motivation to break out of that cycle.

No matter what, it is definitely worth taking a jog around the block or a spin on the bike. If nothing else, the change of scenery may be just the mood boost you need.

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