We all know that working out is good for our health, but what about happiness? There are several studies linking exercise to increased levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. But there’s more! Exercise has been proven to be an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Put these two together – happy brain chemistry + feeling better about oneself after a workout = happier life. In this blog, I will explore the connection between workouts and happiness. In what ways does exercise make you happier? How much is too much to have a positive impact on your mood?
How Exercise Makes You Happy
Small doses of exercise may have a large impact on happiness.
People who exercise even once a week or for as little as 10 minutes a day are more cheerful than those who never exercise, according to a recent assessment of literature on good moods and physical activity. Any form of exercise could be beneficial.
It’s not a new concept that moving might impact our feelings. Many of us would remark that a jog or a trip to the gym makes us feel less irritable or more relaxed. Science, on the whole, agrees with us. Physically active people had a decreased risk of depression and anxiety than people who rarely exercise, according to a number of previous research.
They started by searching research databases for relevant papers, eventually finding 23 that had been published since 1980. The majority of them were observational, meaning the researchers merely observed a group of people and asked them how frequently they exercised and how happy they were. A handful of the studies involved people beginning to exercise and researchers measuring their pleasure before and afterward.
Each research had a small number of participants, but they totaled more than 500,000 persons, ranging in age from teens to the elderly and representing a diverse spectrum of ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
“Every observational study indicated a positive association between being physically active and being happy,” says Weiyun Chen, an associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Michigan, who co-authored the review with her doctoral student Zhanjia Zhang.
It didn’t appear to matter what kind of exercise they conducted. A few joyful people jogged or walked. Others stretched and posed in a yoga-like manner.
And, according to Dr. Chen, the quantity of exercise required to influence happiness was minimal. People who exercised once or twice a week reported feeling more happier than those who never exercised, according to many studies. Physical activity for 10 minutes a day has been associated with happier moods in other studies.
More mobility, on the other hand, was associated with increased enjoyment. According to Dr. Chen, those who exercised for at least 30 minutes on most days, which is the typical American and European suggestion for optimal health, were roughly 30% more likely to consider themselves happy than those who did not.
“I believe the evidence is solid that exercise can add to happiness, and while any amount of activity is beneficial, a little more is probably preferable,” she says.
To wrap up the post below is a cute infographic from Happify Health. It’s been proven that working out can make you happier and more energetic. It also boosts your mood by releasing endorphins, which is the body’s natural feel-good chemical. If you’re feeling down, try going to the gym for a while and see if it helps at all!