Our final installment in our Happiness Series is all about movement. Being active instantly improves our mood by bolstering dopamine production, and making us feel good. Exercise is one of the great ways you can boost dopamine production naturally and reduce depression, anxiety, stress and panic. Movement betters mental processing, lengthens your life, improves sleep and strengthens the immune system.
Movement is pretty powerful.
And while all that says a lot about the amazing impact of movement, it’s not even the end of the story. The mood-enhancing rewards of just 20 minutes of movement can last a full 12 hours according to researchers at the University of Vermont. And, according to Kelly McGonigal author of “The Joy of Movement,” regular exercise can change more than just how you look in a pair of jeans. Regular movement can activate pleasure, make you more social, reveal hidden strengths and provide a boost for your brain. “If there is a voice in your head saying, ‘You’re too old, too awkward, too big, too broken, too weak,’ physical sensations from movement can provide a compelling counterargument,” McGonigal writes. “Even deeply held beliefs about ourselves can be challenged by direct, physical experiences, as new sensations overtake old memories and stories.”
And the benefits of movement aren’t just for adults. Children who get enough exercise get the same impressive rewards like healthier self-image, decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improved behavior. Plus, they are more likely to be active adults and reap the benefits of movement over the course of their entire lifetime.
So, what types of movement should you be doing to increase your mood? Seems that most studies agree whatever type of regular exercises you will stick to, that you like, and that you don’t think of as work are the ones you should do. Consider the study from Cornell University which found that people who were told they were taking a scenic walk felt happier and less fatigued than those who considered it an exercise walk. The lesson is, get moving anyway you can right now – dance, run, go for a walk around the neighborhood, play with your kids. Your mood will thank you for it.
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