Many people exercise to become happier. Of course, becoming more toned and shapely would most likely increase self-esteem and help gain the attention of others. But these aren’t the only reasons why exercise can make us happier. There are other underlying psychological benefits of exercise.
Exercise helps to reduce stress. Levels of endorphins (hormones similar to morphine) are elevated when we exercise, this results in a mild euphoric feeling that may remain for a period of time. Activities such as boxing and weights training may also have a cathartic effect. Punching a boxing bag is a good way to release tension and vent anger and frustration after a hard day at the office!
The length and quality of sleep can be improved when exercise is done at least three hours before bedtime. People who exercise generally sleep longer than those who do not. Typically 7-8 hours of sleep a day is recommended. The restorative processes of sleep happen more regularly in the deeper levels of sleep. People who exercise regularly tends to spend more time in these deeper levels of sleep compared to individuals who do not exercise regularly.
Exercise helps concentration and energy levels. I personally like to train in the morning, as I feel energized for the rest of the day. It has been found that exercising can improve memory and levels of concentration. Having a workout or going for a walk during your lunch hour will energise your mind, making you think more clearly and increasing your productivity. When exercising, try to pick exercises that you enjoy doing, whether it’s a sport, or training with a partner or a trainer. This will make it easier to continue so you wont give up. Exercising with someone else is more fun and productive. Reward yourself when you achieve results, buy some new clothes or get a massage. You deserve it!
Many studies have found that exercise improves levels of anxiety and can help with alleviating depressed individuals. This may be caused by the imbalance of the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine that occur with depression. Exercise helps to stabilise the levels of these hormone, leading to a “happier” mood. Exercise may also reduce the chances of Alzheimer and dementia in older people. Not only may you live a happier life by exercising, studies have found that exercising more may increase life expectancy.
When exercising for happiness it is important to exercise at a moderate intensity. The longer and more intense the exercise, the greater the amount of endorphins released, and the greater the benefits on mood. Try boxing or weights training as a cathartic release, or maybe a yoga class to relax. When doing cardio, go for more than 20 minutes at least twice a week. More is better though! Good luck. Here’s to a happier you!