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It is a common concept that for our lives to be meaningful, we must be happy. Some argue that happiness is more important than anything else in life. The benefits of exercise are well-discussed in the media, and your health teacher lectured about it.
To exercise you do not need to run marathons or lift weights for hours on end. You simply have to move. You will be amazed at how wonderful you will feel if you exercise for thirty minutes at a time, three or four times a week. Exercising helps the body release endorphins, which are hormones that create a sense of elation and positivity. These hormones can help boost us out of a foul mood, so exercising is a wise strategy.

In addition to endorphins, the brain releases adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine when you exercise. These chemicals all work together to make you feel good. If you need an emotional uplift, exercise because physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that allow you to feel happy and relaxed. You will feel better about your appearance and this will lead to increased confidence and improved self-esteem.

Research Studies Show Improved Mental Health with Regular Exercise

Research supports the idea that exercise makes us feel better. A study done by Norwegian researchers involving 4,500 participants found that those who engage in any amount of exercise have improved mental health when compared to those who never exercise. Another study by the American College of Sports Medicine found that six weeks of bicycle riding or weight training eased symptoms of women who were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The exercise resulted in less irritability and overall improved mental health.

The National Institute of Mental Health found out what is going on with the brain during and after physical activity and how it provides emotional satisfaction. This group of researchers studied two types of male mice, aggressive “alpha” mice and more gentle male mice or “beta” mice.

When they subjected the beta mice to the alpha mice, it made them anxious. They froze or hid in dark corners to escape their aggressive counterparts. The head researcher, Dr. Lehmann, reported that the repeated stress and exposure to the alpha mice made the beta mice become depressed. When a subgroup of beta mice were allowed access to running wheels and explorable tubes in their cages that allowed them to get exercise, they were not as intimidated by the alpha mice and appeared less stressed and anxious when exposed to them. They did not freeze or hide in corners.

The significance of this research involves understanding the relationship between stress and mood disorders and the effects exercise has on anxiety disorders and depression. Furthermore, Dr. Lehmann concluded that running and exercise was the key to the animals’ ability to rebound from their unpleasant situations. While no one will argue with the fact that humans are not mice. The research conducted on mice has proven true in humans, however. Hierarchies, which are marked by bullying, result in stress for the person with the beta personality.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • Bertheussen and Associates. (2011). Association between physical activity and physical and mental health. Retrieved from:
  • Lehmann and Associates. (2011). National Institute of Mental Health. Stress-defeating effects of exercise traced to emotional brain circuit. Retrieved from:
  • Reynolds, G. (2011). The New York Times. Why exercise makes us feel good. Retrieved from:
  • The Mayo Clinic. (2011). Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity. Retrieved from:
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