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The Exercise-Happiness Effect

The Exercise-Happiness Effect
Natalie Butler, RD, LD

You likely often hear about the health benefits of exercise… how it can reduce your risk of pre-diabetes and heart disease by helping you manage your weight, blood sugars and cholesterol. But sometimes those benefits can feel intangible and too far out in the future to motivate you…today… to exercise. So what benefit can you lean on and depend on that will give you a more immediate benefit or that “instant gratification?”

Exercise will lift your mood… WITHIN FIVE MINUTES!
Exercise helps you feel a sense of accomplishment.
Exercise eases tension and strained muscles because of deeper relaxation.
Exercise reduces depression.
Exercise reduces anxiety.
Exercise helps you feel better about yourself and your life.
Exercise improves your self-esteem.
Exercise improves your sleep.
Exercise will super charge your metabolism.exercise

These improvements in mood happen because exercise causes your body to release “feel good” chemicals called endorphins, as well as adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. Words like “euphoria” or “runner’s high” are often used to describe that post-workout feeling. Endorphins also help blunt the feeling of pain because they act as analgesics. In those that chronically feel depressed or have been clinically diagnosed, 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week can be as effective as medication for improving mood!

These mood benefits are temporary though so exercising daily is recommended. When you do exercise consistently, you also improve the way your body and mind handles physical, psychological or emotional stress. You are less likely to feel overwhelmed by the stress which means you won’t reap as many negative health consequences by having to deal with chronic stress.

So if you want to enjoy the feeling of being “high” without actually being high, feel better about your life and ultimately reduce your risk of chronic disease, then make exercise a part of day… you won’t regret it. In fact, afterwards, you will be so glad you did it!!

The Fat Afterburner Effect

Exercising at least 30 minutes every day is also going to super charge your metabolism. You obviously burn off lots of calories while you are exercising, what isn’t so obvious is that even this small amount of cardio elevates your metabolic rate so that your body burns off more calories the other 23 hours of the day too! This is called the fat afterburner effect. What a bargain! Exercise 30 minutes and you get the next 23.5 hours of fat loss at no additional charge! 

Aerobic Walking
What constitutes cardiovascular exercise, good question. Good cardio is anything that elevates your heart rate to 70%-85% of your maximum for at least 20 minutes. What is the best cardio for losing weight? For most people, walking is the best form of cardio! Easy, enjoyable, and low risk of injury. For a young person in good health, jogging or swimming are other great choices for cardiovascular exercise.

Cardio is one of the most important things you can do to keep your body healthy, inside and out.exercise

There are several great apps you can download for your phone to help you make the most of your daily walks. Runtastic and Pedometer are two good ones that I can recommend for keeping track of your miles and also your pace. Heart Rate Pro is a simple little app for measuring your heart rate while walking. A bluetooth heart rate monitor is by far the best way to easily track your heart rate. You can do a Google search for a list of several popular brands.

So basically you want to do a minimum of 30 minutes a day of walking at a pace that will elevate your heart rate into the target zone.  For me that is walking at a pace that will give me a heart rate of between 83-140 BPM. That is about 3.2 to 4.0 mph.  Start off slow and increase your pace gradually the first week or so. If you have not been exercising regularly, then your tendons and joints are not going to be in shape for a sudden shock if you push yourself to hard to fast.

So, think about your weight loss goal when you are deciding how much time to invest in your daily walks. Remember, two pounds a week is 1,000 calories a day burned or cut out of your diet. Most people will burn 400 calories or more in an hour walk at a brisk pace.

That means you only need to reduce your calorie count by about 600 calories a day. For most people that is very manageable. Therefore an hour brisk walk a day can easily mean the difference between success or failure. Do 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon if you don’t have time for a full hour at a time.

So now you know the benefits of 20 minutes of daily cardio. Combine this with proper nutrition and you will change your life in a little as 45 days! Be sure to check out our life changing, metabolism boosting 3-Stage Nutrition program here


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About the author

Viance Nutrition

Hi! I'm Walt Landi the founder and CEO of Viance Nutrition. Welcome to our Blog. I maintain this Blog as a free resource for anyone wishing to improve their health. Your comments and feedback are always welcomed and you can email me direct at if you have any suggestions. Thanks. Ps. Spread the word and check out our products at :)

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