Karen Fratti
April 28, 2017 1:53 pm

If you’ve been in a funk lately, the best way to lift your mood might be exercising. Of course, the last thing a person who doesn’t regularly work out (or enjoy it) wants to hear when they’re feeling the blues is that they should go for a run or try a pilates class, but science says people who exercise regularly are just happier in general than other people.

A recent study published in Personality and Individual Differences, followed college students for three weeks and asked them to fill out surveys about their days. On days that students exercised, they reported having better conversations with friends or more likely to do well on a test or project. This carried over even into the day after they exercised when it came to socializing, though they reported fewer achievements.

But that doesn’t mean that they were more likely to go back to the gym. The happy-high was good for their mood, but the data didn’t find that the rush made people more likely to repeat the behavior. Oh, humans, when will we ever learn what’s good for us?

Either way, this data reinforces what many researchers, and anyone who works out regularly, already knew — exercise does something good to your brain. Specifically, when you’re working out there’s an increase in the production of neurotransmitters, like serotonin and endorphins, that send messages throughout your whole nervous system.

So if you’re holding a hardcore headstand in yoga, you’re brain is basically cheering you on. Exercise is like the ultimate form of self love. It’s good for your physical health, and your brain talks itself into being happy by getting pumped up. No wonder we break a sweat.

It’s not too late to start, either. Another study done by the American College of Sports Medicine found that even people who engaged in just a little bit of exercise a day reported better mental health. After just six weeks, women who had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or self-reported stress and irritability reported feeling better. Six weeks sounds like a long time to wait to stop feeling sad or anxious or just *meh* but getting moving really is a good place to start.

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