Regular exercise can make you feel happier. It changes your mood, reduces anxiety, and fights against depression.
Working out makes you happy:
Bob grew up without parents. His mom and dad died in a car accident when he was only nine years old. His uncle adopted him. However, Bob was always sad and depressed. The death of his parents mentally affected him a lot.
Anyone could see that Bob was hopeless, anxious, and had lost interest in playing with other kids. He was always tired and had sleeping problems. Besides being irritable and having uncontrollable emotions, he was also suicidal.
At the age of twelve, Bob started secondary school education. The school was two miles from his uncle’s house. Since his uncle did not give him bus fare, Bob walked to and from school every day. In winter, he usually jogged so that he could feel warm.
After about three months, Bob changed completely. He started playing football with friends every weekend. In addition to living life with integrity, he embraced living in the moment, expressed gratitude regularly, enjoyed harmonious relationships, let go of negative thoughts and feelings, and was no longer afraid of change. His depression disappeared. Bob was now a happy boy.
Did regular exercise make him feel happier? Is it his growth into puberty that switched on the happiness lights in his? Did the passing of time make him forget about the death of his parents and become happy? If he was not exercising regularly, would he be happy?
What is exercise?
Exercise is a physical activity that you do to sustain and improve your health and fitness. There are so many different types of exercises and they include swimming, cycling, team sports, brisk walking, jogging, sprinting, aerobics, triathlon, and high-intensity interval training.
Moderate intensity exercises will make you breathe faster, increase your heart rate, and make you feel warmer. Vigorous-intensity exercises make your heart rate and breathing much faster. Aerobic exercises make your heart, lungs, and muscles strong. To be effective, exercises should be done regularly.
Exercising regularly is associated with many health benefits. To find out if regular exercise can make you feel happier, I searched for information in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Exercise makes you happy:
Ipek Ensari and colleagues, 2016, examined the effects of single bouts of treadmill walking and yoga compared with a quiet, seated-rest control condition on acute mood symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis. Twenty-four patients with multiple sclerosis took part in the study.
The researchers found out that walking and yoga improved acute mood symptoms. In addition to this, walking improved feelings of physical strength and good health. However, the study was done on only twenty-four participants so there is a need for further investigations in long-term exercise-training studies involving large numbers of participants.
In their opinion article on the effects of exercise and physical activity on anxiety, Elizabeth Anderson and Geetha Shivakumar, 2013, concluded that animal studies proved that exercise and regular activity reduce anxiety. In addition to this, they also concluded that clinical studies showed that exercise reduces anxiety. However, further studies specifically exploring clinical applications of exercise in anxiety disorders are needed.
Kyo-Man Koo and Kyungjin Kim, 2020, investigated the effects of physical activity on the stress and suicidal ideation of Korean adult women with depressive disorder. The study was done on 1315 Korean adult women with depressive disorder. They found out that women with depressive disorder who did flexibility exercises had less stress and suicidal ideation than those who did not participate in the flexible exercise. They concluded that flexible exercise reduced and prevented stress and suicidal ideation in Korean adult women with depressive disorder.
Louise Pelletier and colleagues, 2017, investigated people with mood and /or anxiety disorders who exercised or engaged in physical activity to help manage their disorders versus those who were not exercising. They concluded that “it is essential that health professionals recommend physical activity/exercise to their patients, discuss barriers, and support their engagement.”
Jacob D Meyer and colleagues, 2016, determined the dose-response relationships of acute exercise intensity with depressed mood responses to exercise in major depressive disorder patients. The participants were 24 women diagnosed with major depressive disorder. The researchers found out that regular exercise reduced depressed mood, but exercise intensity had no effect on the results. They concluded that exercise of any intensity reduces feelings of depression.
Lydia Poole and colleagues, 2011, investigated the role of pro-and anti-inflammatory cytokines and autonomic balance in determining the impact of exercise withdrawal on negative mood. They asked 26 healthy men and women volunteers in their twenties to either stop exercising or continue exercising regularly for 2 weeks.
They found out that exercise withdrawal caused a rise in negative moods over time. Those who exercised regularly for 2 weeks ended up having reduced negative moods. They concluded that exercise has positive effects on mental health. However, further research on inflammatory pathways is needed.
Regular exercise is important for your mind. It reduces anxiety, stress, negative mood, and depression making them disappear eventually. Thus, regular exercise can make you feel happier.