Exercise Will Make You Happier Than Money

Exercise probably has a better chance of making you happy than loads of cash. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

If you think wealth will make you more joyful than anything else, you might be shocked to find out that exercise probably has a better chance of making you happy than loads of cash. This is the conclusion arrived at by a 2018 study that analyzed data from over 1.2 million American citizens aged 18 and over.

Exercise and happiness

“We compared the number of days of bad self-reported mental health between individuals who exercised and those who did not, using an exact non-parametric matching procedure to balance the two groups in terms of age, race, gender, marital status, income, education level, body-mass index category, self-reported physical health, and previous diagnosis of depression,” according to the study.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

The subjects were asked to answer questions about their mental state, physical activities, income, and so on. After analyzing all the responses, researchers discovered that people who regularly exercised only felt bad for 18 days in a year. This is almost 50 percent less than a non-exercising person who was found to feel bad 35 days annually.

(Image via pixabay / CC0 1.0)
People who regularly exercised reported feeling bad only 18 days in a year. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

People who were physically active felt as good as those who earned US$25,000 per year more than they did. Now, even though exercise is good for you, it is advisable that you don’t overdo it. Any good thing in excess can produce negative consequences. Physical activity only generates mental well-being if done over limited time periods.

“Three to five training sessions each lasting between 30 and 60 minutes per week is ideal. More than this, however, can have the opposite effect — in fact, the mental health of those participants who exercised for longer than three hours a day suffered more than that of those who weren’t particularly physically active,” according to Entrepreneur.

Brain effects

Many people experience an elevated mood when exercising. This largely has to do with how our brain reacts to exercise. When engaging in such physical activities, your brain registers it as a moment of stress. With heart rate increasing, the brain starts to think that you are either fleeing from an enemy or are getting ready to fight one.

“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 reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and eventually happy,” according to Fast Company.

Chemicals that can fight stress are also released in your brain during exercise. Known as endorphins, they have the ability to minimize the feeling of pain and discomfort from exercise. They tend to trigger a feeling of euphoria. This overrides feelings of fear, making you feel more tranquil and peaceful. The effect of endorphins and BDNF on our body is similar to that of drugs like nicotine or heroin.

Exercise triggers the release of protective proteins along with chemicals like endorphins that make you feel good.
Exercise triggers the release of protective proteins along with chemicals like endorphins that make you feel good. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Another critical chemical released during exercise is dopamine, which is basically the “reward” chemical of the brain. Whenever you feel a sense of motivation to do something, you can bet that your brain is being flooded with dopamine. This is the chemical that gives you the “Yes, I should try it” feeling that makes you think that the reward for succeeding in something is worth the effort you put in to achieve it. Interestingly, people who tend to be depressed have been found to have very low levels of dopamine.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook

Recommended Stories

A girl reading a book.

Why Reading to Children is Important

Reading to children isn’t just a pastime or a spontaneous activity. It has many benefits ...

Shattering your fears.

6 Tips to Conquer Your Fears the Healthy Way

Fear is a normal reaction that helps people avoid dangerous situations or encounters. In instances ...

Flags of Australia, Canada, the U.S., the UK, and New Zealand with the image of an eye on them to symbolize the Five Eyes alliance.

The Highly Secretive Five Eyes Alliance Has Disrupted a China-Backed Hacker Group

This week the Five Eyes alliance — an intelligence alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom, ...

Melbourne, Australia.

Dependence on China: Australia at Most Risk Among Five Eyes

A study by London-based think tank the Henry Jackson Society has found that among all ...

Takaharu Tezuka-style kindergarten.

Combining Japanese Ingenuity With Kindergarten Design

A Japanese architect named Takaharu Tezuka wanted a kindergarten that kids would love. So he ...

Parents outside a Chinese kindergarten.

Chinese Media Ordered to Stop Reporting on Kindergarten Abuse

The Chinese government has ordered local media to halt coverage of a kindergarten abuse scandal ...

Giant trolls.

Thomas Dambo: The Artist Who Creates Giant Trolls Out of Trash

Thomas Dambo from Denmark has created something unique for the people of Copenhagen to enjoy ...

The Amazon rainforest.

Study Finds African Smoke Is Fertilizing Amazon Rainforest and Oceans

A new study led by researchers at the University of Miami’s (UM) Rosenstiel School of ...

A dead humpback whale.

Scientists Surprised at Finding a Dead Whale in the Amazon Rainforest

When thinking of whales, you would probably picture these majestic creatures in the oceans, surging ...

Send this to a friend