Move Your Way to Happiness

For those of you who are just tuning in now, Parker Wellness is focusing on what Hana Matt, therapist and world religion teacher at Berkeley, has outlined as the 20 proven ways to joy. We will be breaking down these 20 ways over the course of the next two or three months. The goal is to learn the simple ways in which you can bring consistent joy into your life. You might be surprised to learn that there is actually a neuroscience and a wealth of scientific research dedicated to the broad emotion of happiness.  

Way #1: Start moving!

According to Hana Matt’s introduction, “dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, enkephelines, endo-cannabinoids, and norepinephrine, are called the body’s own “joy chemicals,” and they are greatly elevated and released after exercise. A 90-minute walk raises serotonin levels by 100%.”

There are all sorts of different numbers out there that suggest the recommended amount of exercise one needs to do every week in order to be considered healthy. However, there are a lot of factors that go into what that real number should be for an individual. Remember everyone is different. To make it easy though and just to have a basic base, you should aim for around 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. You can of course do any numerical combination of the amount of moderate and vigorous exercise. It is important to abide by and make adjustments for your body’s own limitations and special needs.

Some examples of moderate exercise would be brisk walking, light bicycling, doubles tennis, yoga, and paddle boarding. Vigorous exercise would include activities like hiking, jogging, singles tennis, and circuit weight training. When deciding what you want to do for exercise, you can be as creative or conventional as you would like. Don’t forget that common household activities like mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, and gardening are also forms of physical activity.

While exercise is good for your physical health, it is also a vital component in your emotional and mental health, as well. If you are not an active person, you may have not yet felt the euphoria that often comes from a good sweat, a competitive game, an adrenaline pumping activity, or a mindful yoga type flow. There is no time like the present! Doing daily activities that release those “joy chemicals” in our brains inevitably are necessary for improving and helping to obtain consistent daily happiness.

The first step is finding an activity or activities that you actually enjoy doing. If you are not someone who likes to go to the gym, don’t choose a form of exercise that requires your presence there. If you love the ocean, then try out the many amazing ocean related activities, such as swimming, paddle boarding, surfing, or kayaking. If you find peace in a forest, then take up hiking, rock climbing, or mountain biking. If you are looking to quiet your mind, then try a yoga class. And don’t forget to mix it up and keep it interesting. You are more likely to stick to an exercise plan if you actually enjoy the plan. There is no right or wrong. This is a personal decision to get moving in whatever way suites you best. All movement is good movement!

Below is also a little reminder of some of the other amazing benefits of exercise.

Thanks for sharing a smile with us! Stay tuned for more on Friday. 

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