Is there a connection between exercise and happiness? Science says there is!
Put on your running shoes and take a quick jog, and you’ll quickly realize how true the ‘runner’s high’ is. The feeling of euphoria that comes after you exercise isn’t anecdotal- scientific evidence has now confirmed it too.
Learn how exercise can do so much more than just help you physically, and how it can make you happy too!
How it Affects the Brain
Researchers have been looking into understanding how exercising affects your brain and cognition for years now. A few recent studies have confirmed and pointed out a link between physical activity and a better mood and increased cognition.
When you exercise, your heart rate increases and your body starts to pump out more oxygen towards the brain. This, in turn, helps you feel more positive, and the oxygenated brain is also better at tackling anxiety, stress and even depression.
In fact, there are several studies that have also found links between exercising and reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms in patients.
Plus, being physically active can also reduce the levels of cortisol hormone in your body (the hormone that is released when you’re in stress). Think flight or fight response.
Decoding the Link
In addition to this, exercising also stimulates the release of chemicals called endorphins, also sometimes known as the feel-good hormones. These chemicals boost your mood and interact with the pain receptors in your brain, making pain feel less intense for you. What’s more, exercising also initiates the release of two other mood-enhancing chemicals- serotonin and dopamine.
That’s not all! Apart from causing chemical changes, exercising on a daily basis has also been found to contribute to certain structural changes in the brain. Some experts believe that exercising can generate neurons in the hippocampus of the brain- the area which helps you feel more under control emotionally.
Doing it Right
So now that you know exercising is great for you when it comes to both mental and emotional space, it’s time to dive right into it.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you do it the right way!
- If you’re just starting out and have never exercised before, do whatever form of physical activity you like- walking, jogging or going to the gym. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable but challenges you a bit.
- Aerobic activities like swimming, cycling, and running have been found to be the best when it comes to boosting happiness.
- If you’re looking for some low impact exercises that can still offer you benefits, consider yoga and light stretching.
- If you’re still not sure where to get started, you can just begin by taking your dog out for a walk, or planting something in your front yard- just get your body moving!
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