powerful effect on your mental state when you're in a bad mood. Physically active people are happier and more satisfied with their lives. But there's more to it than that: - Exercise increases endorphins and other feel-good brain chemicals. - It reduces levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in the body. - It's a proven remedy for both depression and anxiety. OPTIMIZING YOUR WORKOUT FOR MAXIMUM HAPPINESS How Much Is Enough? People who exercise for 30 to 60 minutes three to five days a week get mental health benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but even less may help you feel good. Research shows that even a short stroll can improve mood. But… [arrow to below] In a Canadian study of walkers, A single 30-minute daily bout of exercise had a bigger effect on mood than splitting it up into three 10-minute sessions [DESIGN: Break this up so that it shows one Vs. the other] Don't Just Focus on Cardio - Strength training makes us feel good, too! It's been shown to reduce depression and anxiety and improve self-esteem. [arrow to The Happiness Sweet Spot below] - Yoga and tai chi relax the mind and body and relieve stress. The Happiness Sweet Spot Moderate intensity strength training made people feel happier than low- and high-intensity weight lifting in a Rutgers University study. Exercise Outside for a Bigger Boost Compared to indoor workouts, outdoor fitness makes us feel: - More revitalized, energetic and engaged - Less tense, angry and depressed Did You Know? Group walks in natural settings de-stress us more than strolls in urban environments. How to Take Your Workout Outside - Form a walking group on Meetup.com [arrow to the below] - Switch your lap swimming to an outdoor pool in the summer - Commute to work on a bike - Sign up for yoga or Pilates in the park If You're Type A… Make sure you're getting some exercise that's non-competitive. Focusing on winning negates the mood-boosting power of a workout for your personality type. Goldilocks Goals Being physically active improves physical and overall self-esteem. To get the benefits, set exercise goals that have the potential to give you a sense of accomplishment. (Don't aim too high or too low.) Tip: If you're an evening exerciser and you toss and turn when you hit the sack, try shifting your routine to earlier in the day. Exercise is good for sleep—a major component of wellbeing—but it can make some people feel too alert when it's done at night. MORE FUN, LESS WORK We're more likely to enjoy exercising—and stick with it—if: - We choose the workout, how often we do it and how hard we have to work at it - We feel that we're good at it - We think it offers opportunities for meaningful relationships with other people [arrow to below] To get the social benefits of exercise: - Join a team (kickball, anyone?) - Find a partner for salsa dancing or tennis - Be active around other people—even a trip to the dog park counts! In a new study from the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, people who were told they were taking a scenic walk felt happier and less fatigued than those who considered it an exercise walk. (They also ate half as many M&Ms after their stroll.) The takeaway: Think of your outdoor routine as a way to commune with nature and you'll enjoy it more. Music makes exercise way more fun. 15% How much our moods can improve when we listen to motivating music during a bout of cardio. These positive feelings, in turn, make us feel like we're not working so hard. When German researchers hooked up music-making software to cardio and strength machines, exercisers got an even bigger mood boost than when they passively listened to tunes during their workouts. Watch Game of Thrones on Your Run? A new study confirmed that watching a TV show we like really does make running on a treadmill more pleasant. 3 to 4 The number of calories we burn during a minute of sex. That counts as moderate exercise! University of North Carolina researchers calculated that 19% of divorces might be avoided if both partners ran regularly, thanks to exercise-based declines in anger. NEED SOME MOTIVATION? Think Like Nike One study found that active people don't talk themselves out of exercising (unlike all the rest of us). The message: Ignore the de-motivating self-talk and "just do it." The Fitness Feedback Loop The more physically competent we feel, the more motivated we are to be physically active. "An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." —Henry David Thoreau SOURCES Allen Catellier, J.R., Yang, Z.J. (2013) The role of affect in the decision to exercise: Does being happy lead to a more active lifestyle? Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Arent, S.M., Landers, D.M., Matt, K.S., et al. (Volume 27) Exercise Psychology Dose-Response and Mechanistic Issues in the Resistance Training and Affect Relationship. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. Boyd, M.P., Weinmann, C., Yin, Z.N. (2002) The relationship of physical self-perceptions and goal orientations to intrinsic motivation for exercise. Journal of Sport Behavior. Carek, P.J., Laibstain, S.E., Carek, S.M. (2011) Exercise for the treatment of depression and anxiety. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine. Expert Statement on the Use of Music in Exercise. British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. (2011) Frappier, J., Toupin, I., Levy, J.J. (2013) Energy Expenditure during Sexual Activity in Young Healthy Couples. PLOS ONE. Fritz, T.H., Halfpaap, J., Grahl, S. (2013) Musical feedback during exercise machine workout enhances mood. Frontiers in Psychology. Harvard Men's Health Watch. Exercising to Relax. (2011) Hyde, A.L., Maher, J.P., Elavsky, S. (2013) Enhancing Our Understanding of Physical Activity and Wellbeing with a Lifespan Perspective. International Journal of Wellbeing. Marselle, M.R., Irvine, K.N., Warber, S.L. (2013) Walking for well-being: are group walks in certain types of natural environments better for well-being than group walks in urban environments? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Masters, K.S., Lacaille, R.A.; Shearer, D.S. (2003). The acute affective response of Type A Behaviour Pattern individuals to competitive and noncompetitive exercise. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/tai-chi/art-20045184?pg=2 Mental Health Foundation. Let's Get Physical. (2013) O'Brien Cousins, S. Gillis, M.M. (2005) “Just do it… before you talk yourself out of it”: the self-talk of adults thinking about physical activity. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Privitera, G.J., Antonelli, D.E., Szal, A.L. (2014) An Enjoyable Distraction During Exercise Augments the Positive Effects of Exercise on Mood. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. Sibold, J.S., Berg, K.M. (2010) Mood enhancement persists for up to 12 hours following aerobic exercise: a pilot study. Perceptual and Motor Skills. Strickland, J.C., Smith, M.A. (2014) The anxiolytic effects of resistance exercise. Frontiers in Psychology. Strohle, A. (2009) Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders. Journal of Neural Transmission. UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. What If Everybody Ran? An Investigation into the Potential Impact of a National Running Movement. (2014) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines. Wininger, S.R., Pargman, D. (2003) Assessment of factors associated with exercise enjoyment. Journal of Music Therapy." />
Okay, so now you know that exercise really does make you happier. But if you don't have an existing workout routine, the hardest part might just be motivating yourself to get out there in the first place. Luckily, we've teamed up with positive psychology coach Derrick Carpenter to create a 4-week track of science-based activities that will get you pumped to start—and stick to—a fitness routine. (Seriously, it's possible.) Click here for more details.
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