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How does exercise make you happy?

How does exercise make you happy?

‘Go and get some fresh air’. ‘Go for a walk, you’ll feel better’. ‘Let’s do something to take our minds off this’. We all know that exercise is good for mood.

Our urge to move and explore starts as soon as a baby has control of its body. Anyone with small children knows that they become very grumpy if they are not allowed to run about. Set them free, whether indoors or outdoors, and they have a whale of a time and come home for a (hopefully) peaceful night.

The calming and mood-lifting effect works for adults as well – but how? 

The physical way that exercise lifts our mood is by the generation of the famous endorphins. The full name of these chemicals is ‘endogenous morphine’ and they give the same happy feeling as some achieve from dangerous drugs. Fortunately the drugs that our bodies generate reward us without harm.

The mental way that exercise lifts our mood is by distracting us from our problems. The simple acts of dressing for a workout and warming up will give us something else to think about. More complex moves to music or the effort of pushing our bodies will also take our thoughts in better directions.

Beautiful surroundings also improve a workout. Try a run or walk in a park or woodland, or along a shore if there is one near to you. You could also try a different gym – if you live in a city you may find one in a converted historic building, or there are still decorated swimming pools that have survived the wrecking ball.

Add some music and maybe some company – and your exercise is guaranteed to lift body and mind.

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