Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Tipster: Want to be happy? Exercise!

Today's Workout:
5 mile run (with strides at the top of every minute on the last mile)

Hello everyone! While driving to work today, I heard an interesting fact on the radio that raised my curiosity and quite frankly made me a little concerned. Apparently, a study conducted by the United Nations revealed that the United States ranked #17 in the World Happiness Report. The study was based on 156 countries with Northern Europe ranking in the top 5 spots. These countries included, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden. The U.S. actually fell from #11 to #17 and the attributing factors to the fall were:

  • Mental illness
  • Falling healthy life expectancy
  • Perceived inability to make life choices

So basically, people in the U.S. are frowning because of depression, unhealthiness and an overall lack of well-being. How can one of the richest and most educated countries be the unhappiest? We obviously have the resources to be happy after all, we have money, jobs, homes, cars, expensive clothes, flashy accessories, etc. So how could we be depressed and unhealthy? I'm not going to go on a tangent here and start talking about how materialistic things don't make us happy, but what I will talk about is how doing one simple thing a day can make you happier. Can you guess what it is? Nothing more than EXERCISE!

Have you ever noticed how your mood changes when you exercise? You may be feeling positive because you're anticipating health benefits, or perhaps you're feeling in a good mood because you trained with friends or maybe you're just happy to be running on your own. Research has actually attributed these blissful feelings to the release of endorphins. Endorphins act like opiates and are released when the body is under pain or stress. This is why people have reported feeling the "runner's high" during long and intense cardiovascular activities.

Other research suggests that the real culprits may be endocannabinoids. If you're thinking of the cannabinoids found in THC you're absolutely right. Apparently, our endocannabinoid system activates when we exercise, which reduces pain and induces tranquility.

So what's the moral of today's story? EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE if you want your mood to change. The vicious cycle of getting sick and taking medication can possibly be supplanted by exercise, so just give it a shot. Mental illness and diseases have become an epidemic in the U.S., so why not give exercise a chance to make you feel healthier (both mentally and physically) and happier?

Want to burn more calories doing something that will make you happy? LAUGH! That's right, laugh! Laughing may lower blood pressure, burn calories, change people's mood and provide an overall sense of well-being. Did you know....

Fun Facts About Laughter:
1. We used to laugh about 20 minutes in a day in the 1950's. That number has lowered to 6 minutes a day.
2. Children laugh 400 times a day. Adults laugh about 15 times a day.
3. A daily laughter workout of 15 minutes can burn 40 calories and melt away 4 pounds in a year (By the way, your brain can't tell a fake laugh from a real one! Food for thought).

*Don't take life too seriously!*

What form of exercise do you do? Does it change your mood?
I am grateful for the protein bar that
was given to me today by a man that
I didn't even know. He saw a hungry pregnant
woman and offered me his only snack. 
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