Feeling anxious, stressed? Don’t curl up in a corner; get up and exercise instead. A workout is guaranteed to make you feel happier, energized and calm.

Exercise has been shown to stimulate the growth of cerebral blood vessels, enhance communication across synapses, boost mood and act as a natural anti-depressant, augment memory and learning and increase brain density. Yes, exercise can make you happy.

Researchers have tested volunteers who were accustomed to working out six days a week. After skipping two workouts, all experienced one or more of a variety of mood swings, including depression, anxiety, confusion and sluggishness.

A workout can activate the pleasure circuits of the brain by triggering the release of chemicals like endorphins or dopamine, leading to a level of relaxation. Research suggests that with age, our stores of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that plays a role in happiness, depletes. Which is why we need to constantly seek out experiences that release dopamine. The best way to do that is to exercise.

Exercise also plays a large role in reducing stress-related issues. By raising your heart rate and triggering your hormones, exercise induces a low-level form of stress. Your ability to handle that stress better prepares you to tackle other stressful situations that may come up in life.

Staying active and exercising on a regular basis has also been shown to improve sleep too.

While a single exercise session may have positive effects on mood, chances are you will begin to feel the real impact once you have established a consistent and regular workout schedule. So stay the course and enjoy the journey.

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Written by Meenakshi S.

Meenakshi S.

“Fitness begins at home, the food we eat and daily core activities like sleep and mind, body and spirit relaxation,” says nutritionist and physiotherapist Meenakshi S. Along with a master’s degree in physiotherapy from Oxford College, Bangalore and MD in alternative medicines, Meenakshi is also a child birth educator, pre and post-natal fitness expert and ACSM health and fitness specialist. Attributing the root cause of most lifestyle diseases to today’s sedentary pace, she shares HealthifyMe’s vision that healthy habits must be incorporated into your existing lifestyle. “Do not think of diet and exercise as sacrifice, make it a habit and enjoy it instead,” she says, recommending small changes to ease the mind and body towards a more wholesome life. Being skinny isn’t a sign of being fit or healthy, says Meenakshi, of the opinion that it’s important to test other physical fitness parameters like muscle strength, endurance and body composition. She’s charged for change – are you?

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