To my surprise, I feel happy when I leave my new fitness center!
About two weeks ago, I joined a local wellness and fitness center and introduced strength training into my existing exercise program of power walking, rebounding and stretching. I have been exercising for the past 12 years to stay cancer free, but 40 to 60 minutes of sustainable exercise is pushing me to build muscle and work harder than I have in the past.
I am soooo excited that vigorous exercise is not only making a difference in my body, but my attitude and emotions too. The best thing, it feels easy, effortless and enjoyable. My goal is to go to the fitness center a minimum of three hours a week in addition to what I do at home: morning stretching and meditation and rebounding three times a week.
Those exercise induced endorphins are lifting me out of the “work striving mode” into the “happy zone.”
Cortisol and endorphins are the chemicals that affect your body and emotions. Cortisol levels increase as a result of stress and negative emotions and lead to chronic inflammation, a compromised immune system and damaged organs. According to a May 2006 Fox News article by Robin Lloyd, exercise burns cortisol, releases endorphins and contributes to your health and happiness. Endorphins are morphine-like hormone molecules that are released by the brain’s pituitary gland into the bloodstream and lead to feelings of well-being. According to work by Robert G. McMurray of the University of Carolina in Chapel Hill, any single exercise session lasting 20 to 30 minutes at 80 percent of your capacity releases pain-relieving endorphins.
One of my goals in life is to wake up feeling happy. Perhaps the Universe, in Its wisdom and guidance, is helping me do that by bumping up my exercise routine. When the new wellness center opened five minutes from my home and my husband signed up to improve his health, I jumped at the opportunity being presented to me.
The sense of well-being that has invaded my soul as a result of exercising is difficult to explain. I wish I could bottle these “high” producing chemical reactions in my body and keep the lid on. I feel so buoyant and positive right now, I could lift off. I have had these feelings a few times in the past after climbing mountain peaks (hills really) in Arizona and California. But, now I can recreate the experience in my own community. Yeeaaah!
I hope the payoffs I receive from exercising will motivate me to achieve my exercise goals. I know that many things contribute to happiness, but I am now a believer that exercise is a critical part of the happiness factor.
What physical activities contribute to your feeling happy?