WARNING: Exercise has been known to cause health & happiness!
It’s a fact: exercise makes you happy. I’ve been talking about it for years! The obvious benefits are improved muscle tone, stamina, flexibility and strength but do you know what actually triggers happiness in our brains when we exercise too?
It’s great to see that exercise is being ‘prescribed’ as a treatment for anxiety and depression by doctors, supplementing other therapies and in some cases it’s as effective as antidepressant medicines. Attending an exercise class, going for a run or doing a home workout increases blood flow, creates new neural pathways in the brain and releases those famous endorphins. Other hormones are released in response to physical activity too:
1. Endorphins – give you a great feeling after your workout. They are a natural painkiller so reduce discomfort and enhance the pleasure you feel post-exercise.
2. Seratonin – you’ve probably heard this mentioned in relation to appetite and sleep. It can regulate your mood and help you feel happier and calmer.
3. Dopamine – stimulating the reward and pleasure centre in your brain, this encourages you to form happy habits, motivating you to come back for more exercise.
4. Testosterone – important for metabolism and muscle growth in men and women. Regular exercise increases testosterone levels and can reduce depression and obesity.
So these are the four main hormones that are released when we exercise and contribute to that glowing feeling you get (and want to keep getting) afterwards. Making fitness fun has always been a big priority for Gemma Pearce Fitness classes and it’s been shown that treating exercise like a social, fun time is a great way to forget those negative thoughts and concentrate on you. It’s also vital for these important happiness measures:
A good night’s sleep
Regular exercise has been shown to improve the quality of our sleep and we all know that getting a good night’s sleep can have a big impact on our mood and even our ability to lose weight.
A healthy metabolism
Your metabolism is how your body converts food and water into energy for immediate use or to be stored. Your body is more efficient at this process when you regularly exercise. Muscle cells burn more energy than fat cells so getting fitter helps you build lean muscles mass and increase your metabolism. Running, Zumba, HIIT and other cardio exercise helps you burn calories and strength training helps your body to become more efficient at it.
The pressures of daily life can leave us in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’ with cortisol and adrenaline rushing round our bodies. So it stands to reason that when we release the ‘happy hormones’ during and after exercise, it counteracts the negative effects of the stressful hormones.
When you’re feeling particularly stressed, with tense muscles, back pain, headaches, etc. try and think about getting into a regular exercise routine – when your body relaxes, your mind will follow and you’ll wonder why you didn’t get fitter sooner!
Come and find your ‘happy place’, join us at a Gemma Pearce Fitness class. Find one that suits you on our timetable.