RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FITNESS AND HAPPINESS

In a recent Time Magazine cover story titled Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin, author John Cloud presented evidence to support the theory that the more you exercise, the hungrier you get and the less likely you are to lose weight. His arguments seem to be aimed at getting people to give up exercise altogether. Unfortunately, the article provided very little insight into the positive connection between exercise and happiness.

Even if a person's eating habits prevent weight loss, there's no denying that exercise is an important component of good health. It's well documented that aerobic exercise can make you feel happier because it increases the body's production of endorphins, which are chemicals that give you a feeling of well-being and even euphoria. Exercise can also help you sleep better, fight mild cases of depression and boost your self-esteem.

Finding time to exercise isn't always easy, but for people who have desk jobs that require hours of inactivity, it's critical to find a few hours a week for exercise. Creating a fitness plan is one way to make sure you stay motivated to exercise on a regular basis. A good fitness plan should include these three components of well-balanced exercise: aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility training. Below are exercises to make you fit and happy.

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  • Aerobic Exercise

This type of exercise gives the heart a workout. It consists of physical activities that quicken the pulse and breathing for at least 20 minutes. Biking, running and swimming are great forms of aerobic exercise. Team sports such as tennis and basketball will also give you a good aerobic workout, as well working out on machines like treadmills, elliptical machines and exercycles. You can avoid boredom in your fitness plan by switching between different forms of aerobic exercise.

  • Strength Training

Besides the heart, other muscles in the body also need a workout. Strength training with weight machines and free weights can tone the muscles of the arms, legs and torso. Yoga and Pilates can also be used for strength training. Another advantage of training to build muscle is that it can help prevent the loss of bone mass and slow down the onset of osteoporosis.

  • Flexibility Training

Being flexible can help prevent injury and can help improve performance for aerobic activities. Stretching on a regular basis is one of the best ways to stay flexible. Most gyms offer flexibility and stretching class and there are also DVDs that can be used to learn how to properly stretch. Besides stretching, many activities promote flexibility, including karate, dance, gymnastics, Pilates and yoga.

A well-balanced fitness program should include several sessions per week of each of these three types of exercise. Remember that you don't have to be a top competitor in a sport to benefit from it - it enough just to participate on a regular basis. Besides looking and feeling better, you'll gain a sense of accomplishment by taking on new challenges. Investing time in a fitness program is one of the best ways to ensure happiness and a sense of well-being.