Have you ever noticed just how good you feel at the end of a great workout, run or cycle? No matter how hard you have worked, how fatigued your muscles are, there is no denying that Happy Feeling, is there?
Sometimes we feel quite glum and we think we will treat ourselves to chocolate, or some wine because excess seems to be a cure all for unhappiness. However, these go-to strategies are counterproductive because of the consequences they have. This is why you should take your bad mood out for a run, or cycle your stress away. These actions only have positive consequences.
How does it work?
When we exercise, in general, we start to feel less anxious. You benefit from increased energy, as well as having that sense of self accomplishment. In the long run, you will benefit from being healthier and fitter, as well as feeling stimulated.
Exercise and being happy leads to an increased production in antibodies. These help fight bacteria and other nasty bugs (antigens) by hunting them out and destroying them. So the happiness created by exercise, in turn helps boost our immune system too.
This knock on positive effect goes even further. It is said that happy people are more resistant to colds and even heart disease. Whilst people who are stressed are much more susceptible to sickness. Mixed with exercise (which can increase antibody production by up to 300%), it is a win win situation.
We have all heard of endorphins. These are the chemicals that cross the gaps between neurons to pass messages from one to the next. There is a lot to learn about endorphins, but one thing we know for sure is that they make us feel good. We have several triggers for endorphin release, from pain protection to talking to someone. Exercise has been proven to release endorphins.
Yet, light exercise doesn't really produce many (if any). It is when we sprint, or do heavy weights (anything that is anaerobic), so basically when we exert ourselves through exercise. Crossing from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state means your body starts to struggle and your muscles cry out for oxygen, endorphins are then released, giving you that good feeling.
So here’s how you do it:
1) Create a plan - set time every week where you can and will exercise. It sounds quite regimented, but once it becomes habit, it will be easier.
2) Stick to goals - think about what you want to achieve and write it down. Give yourself a target and work towards it. Keeping track of your progress is a great motivator (as if happiness isn't enough!).
3) Get friendly - pick something you enjoy doing and do it with a friend. Wether that is walking, the gym or running after work. If you say to a friend you are going, then you have committed to them and are less likely to think of a reason not to go.
Winter is here and it can get a lot of us down, be that mentally or physically. There are a lot of bugs doing the rounds and exercise can help fight it off. Get in shape for a better physical health, and a happier head.