While many of us think about working out with a tinge of dread, others get downright giddy at the thought of hoisting some weights or knocking out a 5-mile run. No matter which category you fall into, the fact is, MOST people who work out regularly will increase their feelings of happiness and reduce their amount of stress.
The reasons for this are varied as some are physiological and some psychological. Let’s look at 6 ways that exercising regularly can increase happiness and reduce stress:
Sense of accomplishment-Something happens between the time you THINK about working out and when you actually finish. No matter how awesome (or not) the workout was, you feel a sense of accomplishment. You just completed an activity that you KNOW is good for you and that can have lasting psychological effects and definitely make you feel better about your day, and yourself.
Better sleep-I don’t know about you, but when I get a good night’s sleep, that alone can increase my feelings of happiness and reduce my stress levels. When you complete an intense workout, it is extremely likely that you will be able to fall asleep more easily and rest more deeply as well. Exercise has been shown in study after study to help improve the quality of one’s sleep.
Increased endorphins -Endorphins are often called the “happy chemical” as when your body releases them into your bloodstream, they can have an analgesic effect and make you feel good. Exercise is one of the prime ways to release endorphins so in this case, there is a physiologic response that can literally help make you feel happy.
Visible results -For some, looking into the mirror can cause the opposite of what this article is going for…those that don’t feel confident about their physical appearance may dread their reflection. On the other hand, when their workouts begin to pay off and they are seeing fat loss and muscle building results, looking into the mirror can provide an amazing feeling of happiness and satisfaction.
Decreased blood pressure -Exercise, among other things, can have help to lower blood pressure and because those who are overweight or sedentary often have this condition, then a regular exercise program that helps to lower blood pressure and allow one to get off of medication can make one happy indeed.
Decreased cortisol levels -Cortisol is also known as the STRESS HORMONE as it is released when you are under stress. The existence of this in your bloodstream can lead to cognitive decline, suppressed thyroid function, and blood sugar imbalances. Several studies have shown a direct correlation to increased cortisol level and fat gain. Exercise can decrease cortisol due to both the positive psychological and physiological results it can have on the body.
There you have it, 6 ways in which exercise can increase happiness and decrease stress. Now all you have to do is try out some different workouts, find out which one you enjoy the most and that works for you and BE CONSISTENT, because the positive results of exercise are real, but they only last if you are exercising consistent.
Here’s to your new happier and stress-free exercise journey!