Have you ever wondered what exercise is really doing to cause such an increase in your mood? Exercise doesn’t improve your attitude merely because you believe it will. This is not a case of your classic placebo effect. Chemical reactions are taking place within you to stimulate happiness, invigorate your body, and create therapeutic value. HIT takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to improving overall attitude and quality of life. Here’s how to increase happiness, invigorate your body, and improve the therapeutic feeling of your workouts.
One of life’s inevitable gifts is emotion. Happy, sad, angry, confused, joyful—you name, we’ve all felt it. A feeling of constant happiness is the goal, but unfortunately, other emotions tend to get in the way. Being happy is a continual pursuit that takes work. One way to work on that happiness is through exercise.
Science can help explain why exercise makes us so happy. Endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemicals, are released from the pituitary gland during exercise. Every lift you do, every step you take, every sit-up you push yourself to do is helping release endorphins. Sure, the extra work may seem like torture in the moment. That last squat rep hurts, your whole body shakes on your final pull-up, but in reality, that small moment of pain leads to increased feelings of happiness. The release of endorphins prompts the body to experience exhilaration while blocking negative feelings of pain, leading to a phenomenon commonly referred to as “runner’s high.” Physical activity also increases the flow of oxygen, which helps to stimulate the brain and increase productivity. Increased productivity leads to greater happiness.
A happy life is comprised of both a happy body and happy mind. At times when working out doesn’t sound enticing, remember that “in every workout a single step is not just a step closer to a healthier body, but also to a healthier mind.”
Consistent exercise is also an excellent way to boost self-esteem. The better you look and the better you feel, the happier you will be. Look good, feel good, play good. A major part of excelling in life is confidence in your self.
After a long, exhausting day of work, the last thing you want to do is work out. You’re too tired—there’s always tomorrow, right? Wrong. Contrary to popular belief, “regular exercise can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy…” Though the idea is counterintuitive, exercise works to increase energy levels. When you’re feeling sluggish and fatigued the miracle cure might be hidden in a little workout.
According to a recent University of Georgia study, “Sedentary people who regularly complain of fatigue can increase their energy levels by 20 percent and decrease their fatigue by 65 percent by engaging in regular, low-intensity exercise.”
Pushing yourself to exercise, especially when the remote and couch are calling your name, allows your body to more effectively produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) the coenzyme that is responsible for providing the body with energy. ATP production equals more energy and more energy equals invigoration! Exercise helps to increase ATP production as well as to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the body’s tissues. In turn, the body’s cardiovascular system functions more efficiently and as a result, you are filled with more energy to tackle the day. Invigorate yourself—get out and exercise!
The benefits of consistent exercise extend far beyond just the physical. Regular physical activity can help mental health by fighting depression and anxiety. In a way, exercise is a form of exposure therapy for those struggling with anxiety. Anxiety stimulates fear in people causing them to experience increased heart rates and heavy perspiration, characteristics also felt during physical activity. The more frequent and regular someone with anxiety exercises, the more accustomed he/she becomes to an increased heart rate. As a result, those with anxiety may begin to associate increases in heart rate and perspiration with positive experiences such as exercise, rather than fearful, anxiety-induced instances of the past.
A little bit of exercise goes a long way. Be happy, get invigorated, and improve your physical and mental health by getting out and exercising!