How Does Exercise Make You Happy

How Does Exercise Make You Happy?

If you love a good gym session or follow an exercise program, you’ve probably noticed how great you feel after each workout.

Why is this? Well, exercising has many benefits for your physical and mental health! It’s one of the most effective ways to improve your mood and overall well-being.

Let’s chat about all the ways exercise makes you happy and discuss how much exercise you need.

How Does Exercise Make You Happy? Here Are 11 Ways!

How does exercise make you happy?

1. Exercising Improves Your Mood

People who exercise regularly report a significant boost in their mood after working out. This boosting mood effect is best explained by chemical changes that occur in the brain.

smiling woman exercising with her hands behind her head

Exercise increases the levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. These happy brain chemicals are responsible for your good mood, feelings of pleasure, and overall sense of well-being.

2. Exercising Reduces Your Stress and Anxiety Levels

In addition to impacting neurotransmitter levels, exercise helps reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol. When left unchecked, cortisol can wreak havoc on your body and mind, leading to adverse effects such as anxiety, insomnia, and weight gain.

Exercise helps clear your mind while also distracting you from whatever is causing you stress. That’s why people often tell you to ‘Take a walk and calm down’ when you’re stressed.

3. Exercising Increases Your Mental Resilience

One of the main reasons people don’t exercise is because it’s not a part of their normal routine. And it’s not easy to start a new habit!

Do you know what happens when you continue to exercise despite not loving how intense it can feel? You overcome a huge mental block, which improves your mental resilience.

Exercising involves a lot of goal setting. You build mental resilience every time you overcome challenges to achieve your goals. This increased mental resilience will help you in all areas of your life, not just when you’re working out.

man running outside on a sidewalk

4. Exercising Makes You More Positive

If you’re feeling down, one of the best things you can do is get moving.

Instead of dwelling on what’s stressing you out, exercise lets you focus entirely on something else. It allows you to clear your mind and recenter yourself.

Exercise also helps to increase levels of endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that produce a positive and uplifting feeling, sometimes referred to as a “runner’s high.”

5. Exercising Increases Your Energy Levels

Experts advise that if you want your day to be productive, you should exercise in the morning. It may seem counterintuitive, but exercising actually provides you with more energy. How does this happen?

When you’re exercising, you’re engaging your muscles. The more you engage your muscles, the more fuel they need. Your body gets very efficient at breaking down nutrients to be used as fuel.

Exercise also improves your heart and lung health, making it more efficient to deliver oxygen where needed. Your capacity to engage your mind and body for longer periods increases, and you’re less likely to feel fatigued.

So, the next time you exercise, check your energy levels – you’ll notice that extra spring in your step!

6. Exercising Helps You Sleep Better

Getting enough sleep is vital for your overall health. Sleep improves your mood, memory, and focus. It’s also essential for your physical health, as it helps to repair and rejuvenate your body.

man sleeping in bed, hugging his pillow

Studies show that exercise can help you sleep better, especially if you suffer from insomnia. Exercise improves the quality of your sleep and enables you to fall asleep faster.

Exercise works by fatiguing your body, making it easier for your body to relax and fall asleep at night.

7. Exercising Improves Your Memory

One of the cognitive benefits of exercise is improved memory, especially as you get older.

Aerobic exercises like walking, running, and swimming have been shown to improve memory and cognitive function. These activities increase the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and thinking.

Exercise has also been shown to improve memory by increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a protein that helps to support the survival of nerve cells and promotes the growth and differentiation of new ones.

8. Exercising Improves Your Self-Confidence

If there’s one great way to boost your self-esteem, it’s exercise! Exercising helps you realize that your body is powerful and capable of incredible things.

Your self-confidence grows as you exercise, as you notice your body becoming stronger with improved stamina.

Both adults and children who exercise regularly have improved self-esteem and body image. In one study, sedentary adults who started a new exercise program reported significantly improved body satisfaction in just 12 weeks.

woman smiling and winking showing off her left biceps while holding a sign that says, "confident"

9. Exercising Improves Your Immune System

Exercise can also improve your immune system. For instance, a recent meta-analysis found that people who exercised regularly had lower risks of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 and a lower likelihood of getting COVID.

The theory is that exercise increases the circulation of immune cells, which helps the body to fight off infection more effectively. People who exercise also have lower chronic inflammation, which further reduces the risk of infection.

Exercising boosts your immune system and protects you from getting sick. A healthy you is a happy you!

10. Exercising Helps You Age Gracefully

If you want to age gracefully, you need to move your body! Why? Because regular exercise helps your body age at a slower rate.

Regular exercise also benefits you in these ways as you grow older:

  • It enhances your muscle strength.
  • It increases your bone density.
  • It prevents cognitive decline.
  • It helps you maintain soft and glowing skin.
  • It boosts your metabolism.
  • It improves your flexibility and posture.

By exercising, you look and feel younger. By staying fit, you can continue engaging in physical activities you enjoy.

11. Group Exercises Can Strengthen Your Social Connections

You don’t have to exercise alone! You can ask your friends to join you in moderate exercise like walking, bicycling, or hiking.

Working out in a group gives you the same health benefits as solo exercising. However, group exercise has one significant advantage: forming or strengthening new social connections!

3 women stretching outside

We highly recommend group exercises if you need help making exercise a fun part of your daily routine. Joining a group will not only help you make new friends, but these new friends will also help you remain accountable for your fitness goals.

What a great way to cultivate relationships and stay healthy!

How Much Exercise Do You Need to Boost Your Mood?

Most health experts suggest engaging in 15 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, biking, or gardening, five days a week for a total of 150 minutes a week.

You don’t have to go from zero to 30 minutes a day overnight. If you start slowly and gradually work up to your goal, you’re more likely to stay consistent. And even if you miss a day here and there, don’t sweat it. Just get back on track the next day. Small wins add up over time!

Amazingly, the exercise dosage required to boost your mood is much lower. For example, walking around your neighborhood for five minutes can boost your mood significantly. So, if you want to improve your mood, all you need to do is to move your body!

For your exercise goals to be sustainable, engage in physical activity that you love! Following an exercise program is great but optional. If you want to hula-hoop for a while, go for it! Any physical activity is better than none.

women laughing as they hula hoop outside

Do You Need to Exercise Outdoors to Reap the Benefits?

Exercising outdoors is better than indoors because there are benefits to being outside in general.

However, we’ll say it again – any exercise is better than no exercise! There are plenty of great ways to exercise indoors that people love and partake in regularly. Yoga, strength training, and running around an indoor track are just a few examples.

You don’t need to exercise outdoors to be happier. As long as your body is moving and you’re applying stress to your muscles, you’ll reap the rewards of exercising.

Final Thoughts

Exercising and happiness go hand in hand! Getting up and moving your body will help improve your mood if you’re not feeling great. And if you’re already happy, exercise will help you maintain that good feeling.

It can be difficult when you’re first starting to develop a new habit. The Do Happy App can help you build positive habits and live a happier life. Make exercise a part of your routine by partaking in a self-care challenge of exercising three times a week. The app’s accountability calendar can help you stay on track!

For more self-care and happiness inspiration, check out these a little dose of happy resources:

Sharing is caring!