Exercise and Happiness

As human beings we’ve all been stressed out and have attempted to relieve our stress and anxiety in many different ways: eating, sitting in front of the TV for hours, using tobacco, alcohol and or drugs. All of these attempt to take your mind off your worries and it sometimes works. But many of these go to stress relievers like overeating on junk food or having another glass of wine can have negative consequences if done in excess. There is another alternative for reducing stress and boosting your mood that makes people happier and has positive long-term effects: Exercise.

You know that feeling you get after a long run or a sweat drenching workout? That feeling is what experts call a “runners high”. This powerful feeling is the body’s release of the feel good chemical: Endorphins. This natural high can be followed by an enlivening and positive outlook on life. Whatever kind of happiness it is, a lot of people agree that working up a sweat changes their mood and it feels good. First of all what are Endorphins?

“Endorphins (“endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid peptides that function as inhibitory neurotransmitters and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being”. 1 Ok I hope I’m not the only one who didn’t understand a word of that, so for myself I’m going to translate it into real people words. Endorphins reduce the sensitivity of pain. They also act as sedatives. They are man-made in your brain, spinal cord, and lots of other parts of your body and are released in reaction to your brains chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Endorphins also cause a positive connection in activities such as running, hiking, swimming, horseback riding and any activity that gets your blood pumping. So now that we know what Endorphins are, what do they have to do with our happiness? For a long time we have been told about the benefits of exercise, how it can fight disease and increase our lifespan. But the benefit of physical activity on mental health has been overlooked. Studies show exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which cause us to have what is commonly known as a “natural high” or a “runners high.

”You may have not realized what caused it, but if you think about it I bet you know that feeling. So why not use fitness to become happier? Science backs up the idea that standard exercise actually boosts your mood and makes you a more pleasurable person. When you workout intensely, changes affect your body and increase a feeling of happiness. Even the smallest amount of exercise three to four times a week can completely impact a person’s life. On average, half an hour of constant, moderately intense exercise releases endorphins.

Fitness is a small cost for happiness. Something else that exercise changes is the hormone your body produces called Cortisol. When you are stressed, anxious, or angry, your body reacts by producing Cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that damages the body’s organs over time. When you engage in physical activity, you decrease the cortisol amounts in your body, which leads to happiness. But any amount of exercise is better than no exercise at all, if you want to use fitness to feel happier, be sure to engage in an activity that gets your heart rate up.

At Ghent University a study was conducted and the longer the participants sat around being bored the more their moods became negative and self-judgmental. This is because during long periods of rest, people spent time analyzing themselves. “Additionally, studies have found regular physical activity seems to improve self-esteem, self-confidence, and mood: all conditions are protective factors for depression. ” Says study co author Igor Marchetti. In a study at the University of Texas, 28 percent of depressed people who ran on a treadmill or rode a stationary bike for 30-45 minutes a 3-4 times a week eliminated depression symptoms.

The other group exercised 2-3 times a week for 20-30 minutes and 16 percent say symptoms starting to disappear. A 2012 study in the journal PLOS Medicine showed that 2. 5 hours of moderate exercise per week (which is only an hour of walking per day for 5 days) increased life expectancy by 3. 5 years. This review looked at data of more than 600,000 people. Walking is only one thing you can do today to extend your life. One thing that we talked about earlier was how stress effects our mood and exercise can take that away.

Money is one of life’s biggest stressors, so how can we kill two birds with one: Exercise. Exercise is one of the few activities in life that you can do without a cost. So why not let your body naturally release some endorphins and get rid of stress. Exercise is just one of the many concepts of happiness. Is it the only thing that makes a person happy, absolutely not? In my opinion happiness isn’t just about one person or one thing it’s a combination of what and who you surround yourself with.

But if just doing 20-30 minutes of exercise a day can lead to a longer life, reducing stress, happiness and health why not. Works Cited Heid, Markham Study:Working out makes you happier: http://www. menshealth. com/health/study-working-out-makes-you-happier. May 30, 2013. Web Metzel, Jordan D The Exercise Cure: New York: Rodale Inc, 2013. Print Kurtzer, Mitch: Exercise leads to release of endorphins, which leads to happiness http://health. gmnews. com/news/2011-10-05/Fitness/Exercise_leads_to_release_of_endorphins_which_lead. html, October 5, 2011