If you want to feel happier and less anxious, science shows that walking, running, lifting weights or any form of physical activity can help.
Exercise and mood are strongly linked. The research is clear – the more you sit, the sadder you are. 
You may dread the thought of working out, but after the deed is done, you know you always feel 100 times better.
Here are 6 ways exercise can improve your mood and leave you feeling happier and healthier:
1. Exercise can increase your feel-good hormones
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals known as endorphins that positively impact your mood and overall sense of well-being.
The release of endorphins can reduce your perception of pain and give you the euphoric ‘runner’s high.’
2. Exercise can improve your mental health
Experts predict that just 60 minutes of exercise a week could cure 12% of all cases of depression and is as effective as the current medical treatments for mild-to-moderate depression. Resistance training is especially beneficial for improving your mental health and anxiety.
3. Exercise can enhance your resilience to stress
Not only does lifting weights improve your mood, but staying active improves your ability to handle stress. It is not possible to eradicate stress altogether, but you can boost your resilience to life’s ups and downs. 
4. Exercise can make your immune system stronger
It seems obvious that you will not feel on top of the world when you are sick, and stress will only compound the problem and can have a negative effect on your immune system. Chronic stress can disrupt the delicate balance of your gut microbiome, which can increase the risk of both minor and chronic diseases.
5. Exercise can increase your self-confidence
When you look good, you feel good, which significantly impacts your self-esteem.
Whether it is fitting into your new clothes, the glow of healthy skin, or you just want to feel fantastic naked. Exercise can give you that much-needed feeling of self-accomplishment and confidence in your body image.
6. Exercise can help improve your sleep quality
Do not underestimate the importance of sleep when it comes to positive mental health. Statistics show people are over a third more likely to experience depression when they sleep fewer than six hours per night. 
The plus side is that regular exercise is associated with improved sleep.11 Alongside this, if you get out and about in natural light, it will significantly improve your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Building long-lasting positive habits
With all this in mind, the key to staying consistent with your workout regimen is to find something that fits your lifestyle and that you enjoy.
Aside from planned workout sessions, increasing your daily activity will also have added benefits for your mental health.
Here are 6 easy ways to increase your physical activity throughout the day:
- Walk with family and friends
- Go for a bike ride
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Park further away from your destination or
- Get off public transport a couple of stops earlier
- Start an active hobby such as golf, dancing, or a martial art
Being in poor physical condition doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t happy. Increasing your physical fitness can undoubtedly improve your ability to handle stress and encourage a happier, healthier mindset.
 i Zhai, L., Zhang, Y., & Zhang, D. (2015). Sedentary behaviour and the risk of depression: a meta-analysis. British journal of sports medicine, 49(11), 705-709.
 Basso, J. C., & Suzuki, W. A. (2017). The effects of acute exercise on mood, cognition, neurophysiology, and neurochemical pathways: A review. Brain Plasticity, 2 (2), pp. 127-152.
 Boecker, H., et al., (2008). The runner’s high: opioidergic mechanisms in the human brain. Cerebral cortex, 18(11), pp. 2523-2531.
 WHO. (2021). WHO: Motion for your mind. https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/physical-activity/publications/2019/motion-for-your-mind-physical-activity-for-mental-health-promotion,-protection-and-care-2019 [Accessed 21.02.2022], Krogh, J., et al. (2017). Exercise for patients with major depression: a systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis. BMJ Open, 7 (9).
 Strickland, J. C., Smith, M. A. (2014). The anxiolytic effects of resistance exercise. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(753).
 Childs, E., & De Wit, H. (2014). Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in Physiology, 161.
 Gröpel, P., et al. (2018). Endurance- and Resistance-Trained Men Exhibit Lower Cardiovascular Responses to Psychosocial Stress Than Untrained Men. Frontiers in Psychology, 9,
 xii Bae, Y. S., Shin, E. C., Bae, Y. S., & Van Eden, W. (2019). Stress and immunity. Frontiers in Immunology, 245.
 Zamani Sani, et al. (2016). Physical activity and self-esteem: Testing direct and indirect relationships associated with psychological and physical mechanisms. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 12, 2617-2625.
 Zhai, L., Zhang, H., Zhang, D. (2015). Sleep duration and depression among adults: A meta‐analysis of prospective studies. Depression and Anxiety, 32 (9).
 Youngstedt, S. D., & Kline, C. E. (2006). Epidemiology of exercise and sleep. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 4(3), 215-221.