THE PATH TO HAPPINESS – STEP SIX

“Get physical – exercise for 20 – 30 minutes at least three times a week.” While at first this next step may not sound like “fun”, exercise is vital to leading a healthy and happy life. Physical activity not only gets your body in shape, but it gives you a great mental boost as well.

When you are physically active your body releases a cascade of “feel good” hormones. Endorphins begin to surge through your blood stream and boost your mood. Your self-confidence receives a bolster from this hormone, making you feel like you can handle anything that comes your way.

Dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine are also released. These chemicals are known to act as natural antidepressants. A study at Duke University found that feelings of depression, anger, confusion and tension are effectively treated through intense bouts of physical activity. Researchers in Canada found that depressed patients felt significantly less depressed after exercising for 20 – 60 minutes three to five times a week.

It is also believed that the endorphins released during exercise may help to increase brain function. In addition, physical activity improves blood flow to the brain and increases your intake of oxygen. You feel more alert and think more clearly.

When you begin to see and feel your body getting stronger and leaner, you will carry yourself differently. You will stand taller and breathe more fully. This new attitude will go far to increase your general level of happiness and well-being.

This week take the time to go out and enjoy some movement. Dance, try out a yoga class or take your dog for a walk. You’ll soon see why this step made it to the top ten!

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