How to be naturally happy

Kiana Roppe

Physical exercise as a means to lose weight is trending lately, but there are many other benefits to exercise that may be more advantageous.

”It’s too much work, I have better things to do,” said Charlie Marriott, a sophomore in mathematics. “I hate breathing heavy and having to regain my breath.”

Many students are like Marriott — they do not want to work out and they find other fun things to do. What Marriott, and others with the same opinion, may not realize is that exercise can actually elicit feelings of happiness.

“While you exercise, your brain releases serotonin, endorphins, dopamine and adrenaline. These chemicals typically elevate your mood and give you a sense of well-being,” said Anne W. Wigley, director and owner of Forever Fit in Dallas. “Personally, I use exercise to treat moderate depression.”

The more often people exercise, no matter what type of exercise, the better mood they will enjoy. This is evident immediately after a workout.

“It makes me feel good about myself — like I’ve accomplished something,” said Wylie Reimer, a freshman in apparel, merchandising and design. “I feel like I have control.”

In a study titled “The Invisible Benefits of Exercise,” conducted by Matthew Ruby, Elizabeth Dunn, Andrea Perrino, Randall Gillis and Sasha Viel at the University of British Columbia, participants were asked to predict and to reflect on their feelings at various times in a workout.

They found that people significantly underestimate how much they will enjoy the workout. The “affective forecasting bias” showed in their results no matter what level or form of exercise was performed.

“People pay more attention to how they feel at the beginning of a workout, rather than how good they feel at the end,” Ruby said. “Simply by having people reflect at different times during their workout, we were able to make them appreciate it more significantly.”

In conclusion to their study, Ruby and the other experimenters recommend changing beliefs about working out by thinking of the more positive aspects, which will cause people to become more motivated to workout.

“Sure, a healthy body helps our emotions to be more positive, but it is our emotions that create the body being healthy or expressing disease (dis-ease),” said Lyndyn Sophia Stratbücker, director and founder of The Wellness Connection in Omaha, Neb.

Once people get motivated and positive about working out, they will be able to gain more benefits like good health, reduced stress, toned muscles, more stamina and yes, even weight loss.

“If I have a bad day, I just go for a run, then everything is better,” Riemer said. She tries to exercise multiple times a day for the pleasure of it, as well as to train for a half marathon. “I love kickboxing, going on adventure runs and swimming.”