What do I need to know about the brain?
Before we tell you: does exercise cause happiness, Let’s learn a little about the brain. The brain has a bunch of nerves that “talk to each other”. Basically, these nerves communicate by passing notes. Notes, in the brain, are chemicals called neurotransmitters. So, these notes (or neurotransmitters) go from nerve to nerve, until they reach the part of the brain, or body that they need to go to. Now, some of the notes are bad, and can make each nerve that it reaches sad. While other notes can be really great, and make each nerve more positive.
What are the “Happy Neurotransmitters”?
There are 4 major neurotransmitters that are responsible for making you happy: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. Each of these neurotransmitters ( or notes) sends a very different, but important message to create happiness:
Dopamine: Think “Driven”. Dopamine makes you motivated to achieve goals, and even makes you feel better when you do reach them.
Serotonin: Think “Special”. Serotonin makes you feel significant and important!
Oxytocin: Think “Affection”. Its the hormone that makes you want to give everyone a hug! It’s responsible for feelings of trust, and intimacy.
Endorphins: Think “Euphoria”. These are responsible for things like “runners high” or super-moms. They help to eliminate stress, and wipe out anxiety. They can even numb pain!
What Does Exercise have to do with these Neurotransmitters?
Like notes, neurotransmitters don’t get passed along for no reason at all. So, something has to cause them to move from nerve to nerve. Exercise causes a HUGE release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Most importantly, Exercise causes the release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in the brain.
Can Exercise Cause Happiness?
So, can exercise cause happiness? The answer is a big YES!
Exercise causes happiness, and it has been found to do so in studies all over the world. Different forms of exercise can cause varying levels of happiness, and tweaking aspects of that exercise can increase your happiness even more! For example, running with music increases mood more than running without it. Only long-term cardio (a long walk or run) leads to the release of serotonin. Whereas, dopamine and endorphins are released with all forms of exercise. Studies have even shown that exercising outside in nature (not urban cities) can make an individual feel even happier upon finishing the exercise. Don’t worry strength training lovers, moderate-intensity strength training can be one of the best ways to reach those happy neurotransmitters! More tips and tricks are shown below on this beautiful infographic: