"No one in our society needs to be told that exercise is good for us. Whether you are overweight or have a chronic illness, or are a slim couch potato, you've probably heard or read this dictum countless times throughout your life. But has anyone told you—indeed, guaranteed you—that regular physical activity will make you happier? I swear by it."
This quote is by Sonja Lyubomirsky from her fantastic book The How to Happiness. We have been digging into this book for a few days now. This book is the number one book I recommend if you are interested in increasing your happiness levels. Get your copy here.
If you have missed the previous articles on that subject, here are the links to them:
"An impressive study of physical activity was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999. The researchers recruited men and women fifty years old and over, all of them suffering from clinical depression, and divided them randomly into three groups. The first group was assigned to four months of aerobic exercise, the second group to four months of antidepressant medication (Zoloft), and the third group to both. The assigned exercise involved three supervised forty-five-minute sessions per week of cycling or walking/jogging at moderate to high intensity. Remarkably, by the end of the four-month intervention period, all three groups had experienced their depressions lift and reported fewer dysfunctional attitudes and increased happiness and self-esteem. Aerobic exercise was just as effective at treating depression as was Zoloft, or as a combination of exercise and Zoloft. Yet exercise is a lot less expensive, usually with no side effects apart from soreness. Perhaps even more remarkably, six months later, participants who had "remitted" (recovered) from their depressions were less likely to relapse if they had been in the exercise group (six months ago!) than if they had been in the medication group."
This is essential stuff! Before we continue, though, I would like to mention that I am not a doctor, that this is not medical advice. Hence, do not change your medication protocols without the support of your healthcare provider.
Sadness is indeed just another colour of life. - Raphaël Reiter
Sonja has an entire section on depression and medication in her book, which is often good support for patients suffering from clinical depression. Be aware that unhappiness and sadness do not always equal depression and that sadness is just another colour of life. Avoid jumping to the mental sickness conclusion because you feel sad and/or disappointed. And before you do go on medication, I suggest you get multiple opinions from different doctors you trust.
I feel it in my own life; I feel such a massive difference between the days I work out and the days I don't. If I don't have time to work out properly, I have a water rower at home, a kettlebell, a few weights and resistance bands, and a Peloton bike. Five minutes here and five minutes there contribute to experiencing a great day. When I don't move, I feel lousy. I'm not a fan of feeling lousy, so, I move.
"When I don't move, I feel lousy. I'm not a fan of feeling lousy, so I move." - Raphaël Reiter
Exercise in the Morning
Another thing to note is that the effects of exercise on the brain have a half-life of 12 hours. So if you want to feel the full benefits, I suggest you work out early in the morning.
Let's take out our journals and start writing down our commitment to exercising every day, preferably in the morning.
And since our journals are out, let's take a few minutes to write down five things we are grateful about! Let's go.
To finish off today's article, here are a few reinforcing affirmations to repeat in the morning to remind and motivate yourself to exercise a bit every day:
- Training my body creates peace in my mind
- My body is my temple
- Motion creates emotion
- Taking care of my body makes my mind happy.