Exercise! It’s proven to make you happy.
1. Exercise triggers nature’s antidepressants.
Exercise pumps up not only the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin but also levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, two other natural happiness helpers. Plus, physical activity makes it easier for tryptophan (a building block of serotonin) to enter the brain, says Daniel Amen, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine.
2. Exercise heats your body- which has a calming effect.
Working out triggers the body’s white blood cells to release pyrogens, proteins that increase the body’s temperature by 1° to 2°F. The result: a soothing, full-body heat wave. Sensations of warmth have been shown to increase endorphins in the blood and alter neural circuits in the brain that control mood. “Working out has a calming effect very similar to that of spending time in a sauna or a hot shower, and all three can help relieve anxiety and depression,” says Larry Leith, PhD, author of Exercising Your Way to Better Mental Health.
3. Exercise can interrupt negative thoughts.
Working out stops self-destructive mind games; if your workday is a source of your angst, interrupting the flow could be a real help. “Exercise gives a sense of self-mastery, and that’s a powerful coping mechanism,” says Keith Johnsgard, PhD, author of Conquering Depression and Anxiety through Exercise.
Don’t forget that exercising outdoors also beats the indoor slog!
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