The Connection Between Exercise & Happiness

Exercise Improves More Than Just Physique

The benefits of regular physical activity are well-documented, and include improved sleep, improved overall mood, strengthened immune system and of course, improved physique. Studies have found that physically active people are less apt to develop depression or anxiety than those who are sedentary. Even though as exercise increases the effects increase, even a small amount of physical activity can boost your mood and increase happiness.

Ideas to Get Moving

Our team of Chico behavioral and mental health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions have put together some easy exercise ideas to help motivate you to take charge of your happiness. The first step may be the hardest, but you won’t regret it. Small changes to your routine lead to lasting habits. Here are some exercises that you can enjoy:

  • Yoga: With stability boosting movements, little-to-no equipment and the ease of doing it in your own home, yoga is a great option for a happiness-boosting exercise. It’s low impact and there are levels of practice from beginner to master. The stretching and opening poses can help to release trauma, especially in the hips or abdominal area, where past traumas are typically stored. Many poses in yoga create an emotional and spiritual release in addition to its physical benefits.
  • Walking or cycling: Whether on a treadmill or outside in the fresh air, the simplicity of walking or cycling makes it an easy starter exercise. It increases heart rate, produces feel good endorphins and if you’re outside, helps you take in Vitamin D. Walking somewhat briskly for at least thirty minutes each day is recommended, but starting with short walks is a great way to build up to greater distances.
  • Swimming: This is a great option for people who have joint problems, because there is no stress on the joints while in the water. It burns calories while increasing cardiovascular endurance, boosts endorphin production and creates a peaceful mood. If you need to find a quiet zone to work through your thoughts, the silence of the water is perfect, and the repetitive movements may help you sort through your emotions mindfully.
  • Dancing: Whether at home in your pajamas or out on the town, dancing is a great way to work up a sweat while having some fun. Adding in a social element and laughter to this can enhance connections and release tension.

How Does Exercise Help?

The happiness boosting effects of physical activity may seem simple, but they are not. There are specific benefits from different aspects of activity and specific ways in which it can impact mood. If you are dealing with symptoms of depression and anxiety, exercise can help.

  • Exercise releases mood-boosting chemicals: Endorphins, Serotonin, Dopamine and Testosterone are all released during and after physical activity and all improve mood, enhance self-esteem and increase pleasure.
  • Exercise reduces stress: Counteract cortisol and adrenaline through physical activity (two chemicals in the body related to stress) and the feelings of stress will be reduced. The muscle stiffness, tension in your back and upset stomach related to stress may also be relieved, allowing you to enjoy your day and feel calmer.
  • Exercise improves sleep: The quality of your sleep, a key factor in feeling happy overall, can be improved by exercise. Keep in mind that exercise may be best completed in the early part of the day if you have trouble sleeping, as it improves quality of sleep, but it may be energizing, as well. Experiment to see what works best for you.

In addition, exercise has been proven to boost the immune system, induce a state of playfulness, increase metabolism, improve brain function and support self-confidence. With so many emotional, mental and physical benefits, it pays to give exercise a chance. Developing healthy coping strategies and prioritizing your health are key to getting well, staying well, and being well.

When You Need Something More, We Are Here

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or substance use, exercise may not be the single ingredient that you need. Fighting an addiction or battling depression may require more than self-help, and we are here for when you need extra support. Our Chico mental health professionals can provide the therapy, intensive care and structure that is needed when a hill seems too steep to climb alone. Whether you need a substance use program or a form of comprehensive behavioral therapy, we can create a program that works for you. Let us walk with you as you find your way back to happiness.

Contact our team to discuss how we can help at (530) 899-3150.