Since a smile actually starts with the face muscles…does that mean other muscles can help with our happiness too? Well, it just so happens they do. Exercising the body also creates a ‘happy’ response, which is why a walk, a cycle, a half hour at the gym or an afternoon in the garden can leave you with a sense of wellbeing or pleasure.
How? Well, it’s those darn endorphins again. Working your body and it’s muscles produces pain…and guess what the body does when that happens? It produces more of those pain blocking opioids – the endorphins – to keep the body moving. And more endorphines means more happy. It might sound like an oxymoron, but working physically hard will make us happier than sitting in an office. Those endorphins also reduce our anxiety and stress, which means walking home after work might be a far better way to wind down than cracking open the medicinal bottle of wine.
And you don’t need a lot of exercise to make a difference. Even ten minutes of moderate exertion will improve your mood, but the longer you can work your body, the more endorphins. Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise produces the biggest endorphin response, but even less strenuous activities like yoga – with those deep breathing tension busting moves can fire off endorphins to the brain. So, just remember, hot and sweaty beats airconditioning every time. You want to be happy? Well, like your grandparents used to say, work hard and you can be.
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