Happy people live longer, and the physically well are happier people. Exercise has been known to improve health for centuries, as Socrates declared “And is not bodily habit spoiled by rest and illness, but preserved for a long time by motion and exercise?"
Exercise has the immediate effect of releasing pleasure-inducing chemicals called endorphins. These improve our mood and enhance work performance. They reduce stress and anxiety, and have proven to be as effective as prescribed drugs for mild to moderate depression. Exercise reduces risk of developing diabetes, coronary disease, dementia (Alzheimer’s), hypertension and disabling anxiety. Just 5 minutes of daily exercise correlates to the same amount of happiness as significantly increasing your income.
Exercise can be simple, as walking is great for reducing many causes of mortality. However, putting in a mix of vigorous activity and strength training really improves one’s mental well-being. Whatever gets your heart beat going and stresses muscles and bones just a bit will do the trick. Using your own body weight for resistance is effective – a set of weights or expensive work-out machines are not necessary. There are many programs of exercise out there, so find one that works for you.
Physical wellness is greatly influenced by what and how much we eat. Studies on nutrition are controversial and biased, and recommendations change over time. We should eat appropriate portions of a wide range of nutritious foods, properly balanced with each other. Learn what are appropriate portions, what kind of variety is available, and how they all balance with each other. Get essential fats, as 60% of the brain are fat cells. Make the rest of your food intake healthy for both your brain and body.
Eat what makes you happy, but do so in moderation. Anticipation of a good meal creates happiness. Sugar, like exercise, releases endorphins in our brains and creates pleasure, but unfortunately sugar can also have detrimental effects to the body and refined sugar is harmful to the brain.
Those who exercise and eat healthfully while enjoying a reasonable body weight have fewer diseases and are generally happier. Burning the calories you consume is the goal. Make simple, daily life-style changes to have long term happiness and an extended life span. Start slowly and make it fun if you can. Try to do something every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes of activity. Take intentional steps to build vibrant well-being, just with varied exercise in your day!