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Exercise Pushes Your Happiness Button: July 12, 2012

Here’s one more reason to crank up an exercise routine. Experts are finding a good workout does wonders for your mood and helps release ‘happy’ hormones.

“Sit up nice and tall, chin up, good...”

Retiree Doug Zell traded in his work place for a work out place. The gym is his safe haven and all-natural stress reliever.

“Once you come over here and start sweating, you forget about everything,” says Zell.

Studies show Americans are more stressed out than ever before. Instead of relying on medicinal mood enhancers, people might want to think twice about a good, sweaty workout.

It’s no secret that exercise helps you drop pounds and increase muscle, but new research suggests you can work your way to happiness.

“Definitely.  Whenever you are stressed out, you can exercise and it will release endorphins into your brain chemically, and it will make you feel better,” says Lee Memorial Health System certified fitness instructor Heather Parker.

Endorphins are one of the latest fitness buzzwords. Sometimes called a natural painkiller, they are the body’s feel good chemical.

“It’s a naturally occurring hormone.  Endorphins are in the brain, so they are released through a pleasure center,” says Parker.

The more intense the exercise, the better, according to Parker, who is a fitness trainer at the Wellness Center of Cape Coral.

“It could be a fitness class like Body Combat or Zumba, or it could be weight training, as long as it’s somewhat intense exercise,” says Parker.

It’s that feeling, sometimes called a runner’s high.

“It has happened to me, when you’re really into a workout, really sweating hard.  It almost feels like you leave your body and you don’t feel the work out at all,” says Zell.

Experts find the chemical release may also ease mild depression. Age or fitness level shouldn’t be a barrier. 

“Anybody can experience these types of benefits. If you are very sedentary, what you can do is start with a nice walking program,” says Parker.

The pursuit of happiness - just one more reason to make time for exercise.