Everybody knows that exercise is good for you. Some of the people who are not too lazy to exercise have experienced it for themselves. You start your day feeling down and unmotivated, go out for a run even though that was the last thing you wanted to do, and come back home fresh, full of energy, and happy once again.
However, what is it in sports and physical activity that does the trick and flips the happiness switch in our brain? Ever since this phenomenon was first noticed, science has been all over it. It’s not at all a coincidence that doing sports makes you feel less anxious, less stressed out, and helps you fight depression — this is how it really happens.
1. Doing Sports Releases “Happy” Chemicals
In order to feel happy, your brain needs to produce a chemical known as Dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter that allows your brain to work properly. Studies show that, as we grow old, our body produces less dopamine, which is why it is so important to do activities that support its production.
Luckily, it seems that the best way to increase your levels of dopamine is through sports and exercise. Anything you do that involves any kind of physical activity will help you feel happier and more fulfilled afterward.
2. Sports Build Your Mental Resilience
Being physically strong translates into being mentally strong. The reason behind this is that you cannot become physically strong without enduring a lot of pain. Therefore, by doing sports and exercising, you build mental resilience.
Without mental resilience, even the smallest inconveniences in life can throw you off track. However, when you know that you have just pushed through a long and painful biking session first thing in the morning, there are few things that you won’t be able to deal with that day.
3. Strong Immune System
Wise people say that being healthy is the main precursor of being happy, and they are right. It is difficult to be happy when you often get sick and cannot go about your daily life like you’d wanted to.
Doing sports strengthens your immune system by strengthening your vital organs and detoxifying your body through sweat, as well as drains waste from your body through the lymphatic system. It is believed that a strong immune system is also important when fighting depression, and that is another way in which sports can make you a happier person.
4. Interacting with Like-minded People
Doing sports is a great way to meet like-minded people and interact with them. Being lonely and not being in touch with your friends and family is one of the main causes of depression nowadays. Doing sports will give you a sense of belonging and connect you with other people.
Even if you’re engaged in an individual sport such as running or cycling, you can still use the Internet to talk to people who share your passion or even join a running or a cycling club.
5. Doing Sports Improves Sleep
Doing sports, especially at the end of your day, will help you combat insomnia and significantly improve the quality of your sleep. It is best to exercise 5-6 hours before going to bed, to give your body enough time to wind down and prepare for a good night sleep.