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Sure, you know exercise is good for you. It keeps your weight in check, makes you stronger, and keeps your heart running smoothly into old age.
But did you know that exercise can also lead to greater happiness?
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.
5 Ways Exercise Makes You Happier
1. It releases “happy chemicals” into your brain
Dopamine is a chemical in the brain called a neurotransmitter that’s necessary for feelings of pleasure and happiness.
Scientists believe 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, or that you need dopamine to do.
The best way to increase your brain’s dopamine production? Exercise.
So just exercise more, and more “happy chemicals” will be released in your brain.
2. It eases stress
Regular exercise helps you become less stressed out in the short and long term.
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
We all have days when we feel way too tired to exercise — and I’m no exception.
But no matter how exhausted I am, I always force myself to fit in a workout.
And you know what? I almost always have more energy after my workout than I did before it.
In fact, research has shown that exercise is better at upping energy levels than stimulants.
So if you push yourself to get off the couch and get into workout mode, you’ll most likely feel more energized afterwards — and throughout the rest of the day.
And more energy equals greater happiness.
4. It leaves you feeling less anxious
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 medication and talk therapy.
In fact, according to Daniel Landers, a professor emeritus in the Department of Kinesiology at Arizona State University, exercise seems to work better than relaxation, meditation, stress education and music therapy at easing anxiety.
So next time you’re feeling anxious, skip the meditation and music therapy and try a hard workout instead — you’ll feel better for days on end!
5. It combats insomnia
Trouble sleeping? Lack of exercise may be your problem.
Staying active on a regular basis has been shown to improve sleeping problems of insomniacs and people with sleep disorders.
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 get happy
Next time you’re feeling down, stressed or anxious, get off the couch and go get some exercise.
Because not only does exercise keep your heart happy and help you maintain a healthy weight, it can also change your outlook on life to a more positive one.
So exercise more, and you’ll be a happier and healthier person for life.