San Diego Fitness Psychology
“Happiness depends upon ourselves,” proclaimed Aristotle. And I would add, happiness also depends on our fitness. From enjoying physical and mental health, improved coping skills and increased satisfaction at work and in personal relationships, having a stronger immune system and increased longevity, the benefits of happiness continue to fill the pages of scientific journals, the lecterns of medical schools, newspapers and magazines, and the Internet.
University-based researchers have discovered that our overall circumstances at any given time make a small contribution to our happiness—about 10%. This includes our jobs, financial situation, where we live, and so on. Our personality and genes contribute about 50% to our overall level of happiness. The remaining 40% of our happiness is due to our choices, decisions, intentional factors and are fully within our control.
Science tells us that regular, consistent and vigorous exercise contributes to our feelings of happiness and joy and can generally boost our mood. That’s right, we can use exercise to increase our happiness—and thus, the fitness we build at The Sporting Club can help us derive real life benefits as described above.
Sure you can practice gratitude, cultivate an optimistic attitude, avoid comparing yourself to others, add to your social connections, practice kindness and forgiveness, develop healthier coping strategies, find hobbies and activities in which you can “flow,” savor joy in daily living, increase meaning and spirituality in life and work towards positive goals in life. These will all build happiness.
But when you are stressed out or frustrated, your body is busy producing cortisol that damages your organs. Exercise will decrease the amount of cortisol in your body creating…you guessed it, happiness.
Exercise also releases the feel good chemicals. endorphins and endocannabinoids, which also lower your stress level and…you guessed it, increases happiness.
The American Psychological Association analyzed 80 studies of exercise and depression and concluded that all types of exercise reduced depression. The Mayo Clinic reported that to significantly improve depression symptoms people might need to do at least 30 minutes of exercise a day at least three to five days a week.
Resistance training and cardiorespiratory exercise lead to greater happiness. After only two weeks of regular exercise, you will begin to feel the benefit of these chemical changes and your motivation for more exercise will naturally increase.
The value of group exercise in building happiness cannot be overlooked. The social connections that come with small group training are important for physiological and emotional wellbeing, leading to increased happiness as well.
Fitness activities in all of its various combinations can be an effective strategy in insuring more happiness in your life. It’s not only about sweat and muscle. The more variety, it seems, the better. Make it fun and sweat your way to more smiles!