Happiness is finding exercise you enjoy
|Montreal Gazette 15 Mar 2017 at 22:41|
Most of us are aware of how exercise changes the body from the perspective of increased stamina, muscle mass, weight management or flexibility.
Daily activity makes everyday tasks like climbing the stairs easier. However, when we exercise regularly we not only changeour physical body, we change how we feel. This shift in our state of mind is the psychological benefits of exercise and may be experienced as sense of well-being or described as being less anxious, positive, energized and happy.
Happiness means different things to different people. With International Happiness Day just around the corner, let’s look at how being active can increase your happiness quotient!
More and more research is proving the mental health benefits of exercise. Experts offer multiple reason why exercise positively impacts mental health; most agree it likely a combination of indirect and direct factors. Better circulation and reduced inflammation from exercise are immediate affects. With more oxygen being delivered to the brain, the mind is clearer and less fatigued. With less fatigue and a stronger state of mind we can handle stress more easily.
A boost in positive outlook and an exposure to positive environmental factors such as a high-energy group fitness class can enhance mental health. One of the best-known studies is the SMILE Study, (Standard Medical Intervention and Long-term Exercise), conducted a Duke University, which showed that exercising three times a week for 30 minutes each time was as helpful as taking an antidepressant for patients diagnosed with major depressive disorders. Of interest, exercise is not like taking an antidepressant, it is the other way around. Not exercising is like taking a depressant, as we have a need for exercise and when this need is not fulfilled, the body’s brain chemistry goes out of whack.
While exercise may not replace the need for antidepressant, there is significant and growing evidence that it is a valuable adjunctive therapy. The Cooper Institute, in Dallas, found that exercise can serve as a supplemental treatment for 50per cent of patients with severe depression.
The human body is incredibly intelligent. Exercise affects every aspect of the body and not just the muscle being trained. When you exercise, the body recognizes this as a moment of stress and ignites a cascade of chemical reactions. As your heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure increase with activity, the brain thinks you are either fleeing or fighting off an enemy. To protect yourself, your brain releases a protein called BDNF, Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor. This protects the body by activating the nervous system to reset the switch to protect against stress. It acts like a natural mood enhancer.
At the same time, the neurochemical called endorphins are produced in the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help to minimize pain and discomfort.
Continual stress and anxiety wears down the function of the hypothalamus-pituitary glands making it less sensitive resulting in an overproduction of stress hormones. Exercise can reverse the conditions that chronic stress exacerbates.
Other chemicals including serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA are released during exercise. All of which are powerful drugs that affect our sense of happiness.
The exact type of exercise that works best to enhance happiness is still under discussion. Exercise. It should be based on your health concerns, lifestyle and other stressors in your lives. Generally, following the national guidelines for daily activity and aerobic exercise has a positive effect on mood. Adding yoga and meditation are excellent for stress management. When exercising for happiness, personal preference is important. Find exercise that brings you joy. Stop focusing on the physical outcome of weight loss, muscle mass and performance and focus on your happiness!