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The Feel-Good Effects of Exercise

Busy or stressful days can make it challenging to muster the motivation to work out. But scientific proof shows that exercise can have benefits that extend beyond the physical.

A study done at the University of Texas at Austin showed that exercise improves the mood of clinically depressed people. Other research has shown that just 20 or 30 minutes of exercise provides a boost to people’s moods.

Why does this happen? Elle Woods got it right in Legally Blonde when she said that “Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy.” Exercise does release endorphins, which act as the body’s natural pain killers. The result is a better mood, lower stress, and for some people, a “runner’s high.”

In addition to the endorphin-related mood-boosting power of exercise, it can make us feel better in other ways, too. Team sports allow for camaraderie and building friendships. People who exercise every morning, or go to spin class on Mondays and Wednesdays, establish a routine, which can be comforting amidst a hectic and unpredictable day. And, exercise can make us feel good about a sense of accomplishment that results from reaching a personal record, or from simply doing something good for ourselves.

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