PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Want to get happy? Get moving. There’s a connection between a healthy lifestyle and feeling optimistic. It’s part of the mind-body connection. More research is showing that being physically active helps stimulate the feel-good chemicals in your brain.
Maybe the weather has you feeling down in the dumps or perhaps the Philadelphia Eagles? Even politics?
Whatever has you feeling blue, a simple fix could be to get moving.
“We know that when we’re in motion, our brains are kind of quiet,” Dr. Scott Bea, of the Cleveland Clinic, said.
One study evaluated more than 121,000 women between the ages of 30 and 55 and those who maintained a healthy lifestyle were happier and more optimistic.
“Where do we go to upset ourselves? Usually to our own thoughts,” Bea said. “There’s even great research that says a body in motion will be a little quieter in the brain and when we’re sitting still, we’re really engaged with our thoughts.”
Also being active releases endorphins and dopamine — the “good mood” chemicals in the brain.
“I think a real ordinary thing for humans is to wait until we feel good to start to do things,” Bea said. “Well, that’s easy.”
Experts say it can be challenging to break out of unhealthy patterns to accept something different.
“If we’re feeling badly, moving our body and getting ourselves behaving in a different way is critical to change the feeling state,” Bea said. “It’s one of the hardest things to do.”
Creating new habits takes a while, but eventually, your brain won’t resist being active. Just one step at a time gets your body and brain to feel better.
Researchers say the more exercise you get, the better. But in terms of happiness, studies have shown as little as 10 minutes of physical activity weekly made a significant difference in a person’s mood.