Why Exercise Makes You Happy

Last week I talked about the effects that lack of sleep has on your body. I figured I would keep with the theme and talk about the effects exercise has on your body and how it makes you happier. Especially with the new year, it’s great to know that exercise is much more important for your health than just for losing weight. So start off the new year right and exercise to be happier!

When you workout, have you ever noticed that your mood changes and you feel great when you are done? That’s because of the effects exercise has on your body and your brain. There is actually a new term for it these days, the Happiness Effect.

Do you know how exercise can make you happier?

  • It releases happy chemicals into your brain.
    • It releases dopamine, which is a chemical that plays a role in happiness, and is a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s necessary for feelings of pleasure and happiness. Many studies suggest that as we age, we are constantly losing our stores of dopamine. What is the best way to increase your brain’s dopamine production? Exercise!
  • It makes you less stressed out.
    • Not only will working out ease stress in the short term by helping you sweat out the day’s worries, regular exercise will help you become less stressed out in the long term as well. When you exercise, you’re actually subjecting yourself to a low-level form of stress by raising your heart rate and triggering a burst of hormonal changes. When you exercise regularly, your body will eventually get better at handling the rest of life’s stressors. And less stress equals a happier, healthier life!
  • It energizes you.
    • Everyone has days when they just feel too tired to exercise, when working out is the last thing they want to do. But no matter how exhausted you are, do your best to muster up all the willpower you have (even if it’s just giving yourself a little pep talk to get off the couch!) and still work out , because more likely than not, you’ll feel more energized after your workout.
  • It boosts your confidence.
    • When you don’t feel good about your body or how you look, it’s all too easy to have low self-esteem. And that can have a negative effect on all areas of your life.
    • But when you start to exercise and see your body transform, that can quickly change. Because exercise will not only make you like how you look, it will also make you feel stronger and more confident. There’s nothing like a boost in confidence to increase overall happiness.
  • It eases anxiety.
    • If you suffer from anxiety, exercise may be an easy cure. Because recent studies on the effects of exercise show that in people suffering from anxiety, the immediate mood boost from exercise is followed by longer-term relief.
  • It fights insomnia.
    • Not only can regular exercise significantly improve your sleep quality, it can also give you energy that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning and do things.


Take a look at the chart below. It not only shows the Happiness Effect, but also how stress negatively affects the body too. It is crazy interesting what just exercising can do for your body, health, wellness and happiness!

So what are you waiting for?? Exercise and be happy!

Dr. Jess

Happiness Effect pic


2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle.


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