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3 Significant Ways Exercises Makes Us Happier

Updated on May 21, 2017
Shandala profile image

Shannon is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Canada. She is currently completing her degree in Professional Writing and Communication.

Exercise makes you happier!
Exercise makes you happier! | Source

Does exercise make us happier?

Short answer: Sure does! Why? Let's take a look.

Exercise Sculpts A Happier, Healthier You

When a majority of people start an exercise program, they're doing it with a particular goal in mind: improving their physical health. This can be translated a multitude of ways, whether it be losing body fat, improving cardiovascular fitness, building muscle, or training for an athletic eventit all circles back to improving the physical body.

But there's an aspect to exercise many people don't consider when they first begin. It's something that can't be understated and that makes the act of physical exercise all the more beneficial and appealing. Besides making you slimmer, stronger and healthier, what's this magical bonus factor to working out? Well, simply put...exercise makes you happier.

Get those happy neurotransmitters flowing with some exercise!
Get those happy neurotransmitters flowing with some exercise! | Source

1. Happy Neurotransmitters

This is the one most people have heard of in one way or another. Exercise...yadda, yadda...endorphins...yadda, yadda...energy boost...yeah, we get it. But let's take a closer look here. What is the brain busy with up there while we're sweating it out?

Neuroscientist Judy Cameron, PhD., explains that the increase in blood flow and circulation that occurs when you exercise affects the brain, helping brain cells to perform more efficiently. Once you start exercising, you raise your heart rate and increase blood flow and oxygen intake. This gives you a kick of neurotransmitters: endorphins, dopamine, glutamate, serotonin and norepinephrine.

Endorphins are released by the brain to buffer the physical discomfort of exercise. They help quiet pain signals, making physical activity easier to complete. Dopamine counters stress and fights depression. Serotonin elevates your mood and helps regulate sleep patterns and appetite. So, when you start exercising, you get rewarded with a big whack of happy chemicals flooding your brain and body.

BDNF: a brain boost for your fitness efforts!
BDNF: a brain boost for your fitness efforts! | Source

2. BDNF

Here's a contributor to brain health during exercise that's not as common knowledge: BDNF.

BDNF stands for brain-derived neurotrophic factor. During exercise, the brain encourages nerve cells to release proteins. These proteins are called neurotrophic factors. The one we're interested in is BDNF.

What does this protein do? It helps brain stem cells to convert into new neurons. It simultaneously repairs memory neurons and protects them from any future damage. Essentially, this fantastic protein is helping your brain heal and protect itself!

Enjoy a post-workout energy boost!
Enjoy a post-workout energy boost! | Source

3. Energy!

Feeling sapped? Forget the coffee run. Hop on a treadmill instead!

I know it sounds backwards, believe me. How can you gain energy by expending it? Nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, states:

"Contrary to popular belief, exercising doesn't make you tired it literally creates energy in your body. It all begins with tiny organs called mitochondria. Located in our cells, they work like tiny power plants to produce energy. The more you exercise aerobically, the more mitochondria the body makes to produce more energy to meet your needs, which is one reason how and why regular cardiovascular exercise actually creates more available energy for your body."

Exercising for a happier, healthier brain
Exercising for a happier, healthier brain | Source

There you have it. Exercise increases your mitochondria count. More mitochondria? More energy. More energy with a healthier, better protected brain and a bunch of depression fighting, smile-inducing neurochemicals floating around in it too. Exercise is superb not just for your physical fitness but for your brain, mood and energy levels too.

Happy exercising!

Resources:

Bouchez, Colette. Exercise for Energy: Workouts That Work. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/exercise-for-energy-workouts-that-work

Klein, Sarah. This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Exercise. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/04/body-on-exercise-what-happens-infographic_n_3838293.html

Dr. Mercola. Physical Exercise Boosts Your Brain Power in 20 Minutes, Helps Stop Brain Shrinkage. http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/05/18/exercise-benefits-brain-health.aspx

Stryker, Krista. 7 Surprising Ways Exercise Can Make You Happier. http://www.12minuteathlete.com/exercise-and-happiness/

Widrich, Leo. What Happens To Our Brains When We Exercise And How It Makes Us Happier. http://www.fastcompany.com/3025957/work-smart/what-happens-to-our-brains-when-we-exercise-and-how-it-makes-us-happier


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    • Shandala profile image
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      Shannon 3 years ago from Canada

      Nice, Amy! Thanks for the read and the feedback! That's awesome you're using exercise as a way to keep on track in other areas of your life. I find that when I'm keeping to a regular exercise routine, I experience so much more balance in all other areas of my life. I love that exercise energizes us too! You really do get out what you put in!

    • Amy Naylor profile image

      Amy Naylor 3 years ago from England

      Interesting!

      I've found over the last month or so having started taking up jogging in the mornings that my moods have been more stable and, well, happy. I figured it was simply because I was creating a routine for myself, getting up early and giving myself more hours in the day to get things done, therefore becoming more productive and feeling like I've accomplished something. I guess these factors do add towards happiness, but now I know the science behind it too!

      I also read somewhere that exercise helps with motivation and things like that, I took it up to get me through the exam period.

      Great hub, thanks!

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