Can Running Really Make You Happy?

Everyone's heard of the "runner's high", the sensation of euphoria runners get during or after a strenuous run. Sounds pretty good right? Well then there's good news for everyone who isn't a pro runner but wouldn't mind getting some extra endorphins in them... Exercise makes you happier, its proven.

The Science Behind It

If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparation element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. Causing you to feel, well happy! Also, not only does exercising lighten your mood during and after your workout, but it can help long term depression. This happens by lessening immune system chemicals that can worsen depression.

Some Less Scientific Reasons

1. Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.

2. Take your mind off worries. Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.

3. Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.

4. Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping anxiety or depression will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.

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But How Much Exercise Is Enough?

More good news, you don't have to be a pro athlete to get the positive effects of exercise. You only need about 20 minutes of exercise to get the benefits. This doesn't even have to be an intense Cross Fit workout. Just taking a walk or simple jog can make you feel just as good!