These 7 Exercises Are Scientifically Proven to Increase Happiness

By Brittany Lyte on 31 October 2014 1 comment

There are reasons to work out beyond the want of six-pack abs. Science tells us that exercise can actually lift away negative moods and emotions, making us feel lighter and re-energized. But there are certain fitness routines that are especially happiness-evoking. And if you're going to be doing the work, you might as well get the bigger bang for your buck. (See also: 10 Surprising Non-Physical Benefits of Exercise)

Read on for our roundup of the best exercises that are scientifically proven to put a smile on your face.

1. Take a Yoga Class

Studies show that yogis score high on the happiness index. So go get your downward dog on and find your bliss.

2. Dance

Dancing on a regular basis can improve your mood and boost your overall mental health and wellbeing. It can also relieve back and neck pain, stress, and anxiety. Plus, it's fun! So go on — shake your groove thing!

3. Walk for 30 Minutes

A brisk walk is one of the best exercises for you. And it only takes 20 minutes for your brain to start releasing endorphins and dopamine — those feel-good hormones that make you happy. Not only is walking good for the heart and lungs, it reduces fatigue and improves alertness. This is particularly beneficial for those among us who are stressed out, since stress can deplete the body's energy and the brain's ability to concentrate.

4. Go Hiking

The sounds of birds chirping, rain falling, and bees buzzing are proven to lower stress and evoke a feeling of calm. What better way to reap these benefits than going for a quiet hike in nature where you'll have a front row seat for mother nature's symphony. If you can incorporate a river, rolling brook, waterfall, lapping lake or ocean into your expedition, even better. The sound of running water is scientifically proven to boost happiness and relieve tension,too.

5. Play a Team Sport

Participating in a team sport gives us a deepened sense of self-worth, purpose, and meaning. Just don't worry about winning. An analysis of the facial expressions of Olympic athletes shows that bronze medal winners are typically happier than those who win the gold. Focus on doing well rather than being the best.

6. Touch Your Toes

Touching your toes can relieve stress by increasing blood flow to the brain. It also enhances memory and improves circulation. Some health and fitness experts say toe touches can also treat and prevent back pain.

7. Choose 'Green Exercise'

Green exercise is any physical activity taken outdoors, where we can benefit from the positive effect the rugged wilderness has on our mood. So whether it's cycling or push-ups, take it outside. It doesn't need to be a world-class beach or awe-inspiring canyon, either. The neighborhood park is natural enough to do the trick. And better yet if it's a sunny day. Sunshine gives us a natural boost of serotonin, the hormone that makes us happy. A healthy dose of UV rays can also boost fertility and help prevent multiple sclerosis, diabetes, seasonal affective disorder, and even cavities.

Does your workout make you happy?

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Guest's picture
Ashfaq Ahmad

These activities really helps in quitting smoke as they are triggers for dopamine