There are literally hundreds of reasons why being active is beneficial. Exercise is good for your body, for your mind and for your social life. Think of these four life-changing benefits of exercise as routes to happiness. Less stress makes you happier, being alert and more productive makes you happier and happy people attract positive happy people!
1. Reduced stress
Most of our lives are filled with stress of some sort, whether it’s lack of time, financial struggles, difficult work deadlines or simply trying to herd your children to school. Stress can also lead to over-eating of unhealthy foods, which in turn can lead to weight gain, which often thereby increases your stress levels1. Exercising helps you to take time for yourself, works to keep your body healthy and is associated with stress reduction and a better mood2.
2. Feel more productive in work and life
Taking a quick break for activity, especially when you feel drained, may help to improve your focus and make you more productive; another great way to beat stress!
3. Positive lifestyle attracts positive people
When you make a conscious effort to improve yourself through becoming more active, your confidence gets a boost. Even better, your new positive approach can convince those around you to also make a positive change. This is especially true if you decide to take a class or join a Fit Club. Who knew that by improving yourself you¹d have the potential to improve others too?
4. Increase your happiness
Who doesn’t want to be happier? Being active promotes the release of endorphins in your body similar to those that are released when we eat highly palatable foods such as chocolate. Endorphins are known for their ability to produce analgesia (relief of pain) and a sense of well-being34. When you eat unbalanced high-sugar foods, your happy vibe is probably short-lived, can be quickly followed by a not-so-happy ‘low’, and may lead to an unhealthy vicious cycle. I’d much rather get my “happy” endorphins from physical activity56.
Written by Samantha Clayton, Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.
1 Singh, M. (2014). Mood, food, and obesity. Front Psychol, 5, 925.
2 Hamer, M., Endrighi, R., & Poole, L. (2012). Physical activity, stress reduction, and mood: insight into immunological mechanisms. Methods Mol Biol, 934, 89-102.
3 Boecker, H., Sprenger, T., Spilker, M. E., Henriksen, G., Koppenhoefer, M., Wagner, K. J. . . . Tolle, T. R. (2008). The runner's high: opioidergic mechanisms in the human brain. Cereb Cortex, 18(11), 2523-2531.
Nogueiras, R., Romero-Pico, A., Vazquez, M. J., Novelle, M. G., Lopez, M., & Dieguez, C. (2012). The opioid system and food intake: homeostatic and hedonic mechanisms. Obes Facts, 5(2), 196-207.
4 Dinas PC, Koutedakis Y, Flouris AD. Effects of exercise, and physical activity on depression. Ir J Med Sci. 2011 Jun;180(2):319-25.
5 Singh, M. (2014). Mood, food, and obesity. Front Psychol, 5, 925.
6 Recently, other molecules than endorphins (i.e. endocannabinoids) have been implicated in producing the effects associated with a runner’s high (Fuss, J., Steinle, J., Bindila, L., Auer, M. K., Kirchherr, H., Lutz, B., & Gass, P. (2015). A runner's high depends on cannabinoid receptors in mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(42), 13105-13108), and many other molecules are involved in regulation of mood; the way it is described here is overly simplistic; exercise affects one’s well-being (happiness) in many other ways.