Do you want to know one of the top secrets of genuinely happy people? Despite what the media wants you to believe, it’s not their net worth or their image or even their career status. It’s their mindset, orientation towards growth, and commitment to physical activity.
You already know that exercise is good for your physical health. But did you know that it can do wonders for your mental health? Did you know that the relationship between exercise and happiness continues to reveal some downright amazing benefits? Let’s get into what you need to know.
The Link Between Exercise and Happiness
Physically active people tend to report feeling more satisfied and happier with their lives. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and other neurotransmitters associated with a positive mood. Likewise, it decreases cortisol release, which is associated with how the body experiences stress.
Whether it’s cycling or Zumba, weight training or swimming, all exercises tend to yield positive benefits. But don’t shy away from the outdoors! Research shows that, when compared to indoor workouts, getting outside movement can boost higher levels of energy and engagement.
Are you feeling down? Struggling with feeling depressed or anxious throughout your day? While it’s not a perfect fix, just 20 minutes of exercise may improve your mood for up to 12 hours. Isn’t that worth the investment?
How To Integrate More Exercise Into Your Life
We are all pressed for time. However, you should schedule exercise into your day like any other essential appointment. The more you make it a habit, the more likely you are to commit to it.
Fortunately, you don’t need to scale mountains (unless you want to) to yield the impressive benefits of movement. New research shows that people who work out for just 10 minutes per day tend to be more cheerful than people who never exercise.
The type of exercise doesn’t necessarily matter. However, the best exercise is the one that you can commit to doing. Don’t sign up for a fancy gym if you know that you’re only going to go once or twice!
If you’ve never been physically active, it may take some trial-and-error to discover your preferences. Be patient with this process and try to make it enjoyable! Allow yourself to try new things!
Walking can be one of the easiest ways to add more movement. It’s free, and you already know how to do it! Consider adding a morning or evening walk to your daily routine. Invest in a pedometer or use an app on your phone to hold yourself accountable for adding more steps throughout your day. Other, low-commitment exercise options include:
Dancing (extra points if you do it in front of the mirror!)
Move With The People You Love
Spending time with active people will naturally add more movement into your life. If you’re socializing with people who exercise, you’re more inclined to want to join them! The next time you meet a friend, consider grabbing your coffee to go. Take a walk instead of just sitting down to chat.
This active mentality also applies to your relationship! Consider the following active, date night ideas:
Hitting baseballs at the batting cages
Playing a round of miniature golf
Taking a walk at sunset
Jumping around at a trampoline park
Signing up for a class (dancing, martial arts, fencing)
Going for a beach bike ride
Dancing to live music
Sex (yes, it burns calories!)
It is important to remember that physically active people don’t wait to feel motivated to work out. They prioritize it as part of their day. They understand that, while they may not want to exercise initially, they will feel better afterwards!
If you find yourself constantly talking yourself out of working out, consider creating a simple accountability program for yourself. Set up a calendar and reward yourself after a certain number of consecutive workouts.
The positive relationship between exercise and happiness is undeniable. Exercise adds vitality, joy, and discipline into your day. It also allows for that crucial “me time” so many of us are missing.
The mind-body connection is a powerful one. The more you recognize the importance of taking care of the whole self, the better you will feel.
Do you want to integrate more of a holistic approach into your lifestyle? Do you need some help and direction with your health and wellness? Check out my un(therapy) coaching services to get started.