Exercise The Science of Well-Being

Happy Medicine

Happy Medicine

Are you interested in finding out more about “Happy Medicine“? Something that you could start right now to become happier? Something that will continue to make you happy for the rest of your life? Do you want to love your body more? Have more mental clarity? Live longer? Combat chronic pain? Improve diabetes and heart disease? Stop obesity and other life-style related disease?

Would you believe this “Happy Medicine” has no side effects, is legal, and that it can be free?

What is this happy medicine?

I introduce to you….. Exercise!

Yes, it makes you happier. It is a “happy medicine“, but it is also so much more than just that. Increases in physical activities (aka, exercise) can have huge psychological and physical benefits.

Of course research has been done on this. And I want to highlight one example from the research.

Does exercise really increase happiness?

Does exercise really increase happiness in a population that suffers from major depression? For 6 weeks, 3 groups of people either exercised 3 times a week for 30 minutes, or took an anti-depression medication, or they did both the medication and exercise

At 10 weeks and 16 weeks after those 6 weeks of intervention, the people involved in the studies were contacted for a follow up to see if they were happy or still suffering from depression.

50% taking the anti-depression medication were “recovered”. And 90% in the exercise condition are “recovered”, which is even better than the medication and exercise combined.

What was the prescription of the “happy medication”?

30 minutes, 3 times a week. This can give you more happiness and more bang for your buck, than taking an anti-depression medication.

Exercise in not just a happy medicine

It doesn’t just improve our mental health well-being but it can also improve our brain and cognitive functions.

Hillman and colleagues reviewed the research that looked at cognitive function and exercise.

They looked at elementary kids and in terms of reading achievement and mathematics achievement. And they found there is a correlation with physical fitness scores. The higher the aerobic activity, the more likely you are going to have better reading and math achievements.

They looked at older adult, across a bunch of tasks, and they found the same pattern. If you look at the size of the effect in cognitive performance across older adults who exercise regularly, they have improved executive function, spatial reasoning, and response speed.

There is another happy medicine that is worth mentioning

This “happy medicine” is also free and legal. It will also improve your looks, your grades or performance at work, your stress, your health, etc. And of course, it can make you happier.

Sleep

Sleep is usually something that is compromised when we have a lot on our plate. Or when we find a new Netflix show to binge watch. And we end up hurting our mental and physical health more than we think, especially in terms of our happiness levels.

It has been found that if we get more than 7 hours of sleep we have a better mood and less emotional and physical complaints. If we are sleep deprived, or have less than 5 hours of sleep than we are more irritable, less happy, and have more physical and emotional complaints.

But you can “catch up” and when someone who is sleep deprived becomes well rested again, their mood and happiness will be the same as the well rested group.

Other studies have been done. One found that not only does sleep increase the number of insights you can have on a particular task, but it increases 3 fold! So if you are working on a project for work, writing a paper, building something at home, sleep will allow you to have better insight on these projects.

What is negatively effected if you do not get enough sleep?
  • Happiness levels
  • Hunger, being more likely to eat
  • Accident on the job
  • Not looking your best
  • Your immune system
  • Cognition
  • More emotional and less focused
  • Memory

What increases when we enter into chronic sleep deprivation?
  • Risk of premature death
  • Risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Some cancers
  • Obesity

Sleep and Exercise

Two “happy medicines” that are free and legal. Two “happy medicines” that also have a bunch of other positive effects on our health and well-being.

Let’s try to see if we incorporate these “happy medications” more into our lives. See what happens. Let us know what you discover about yourself.

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