Feeling down? Try exercise, a proven way to improve your mood.

Exercising is a potent tool that can boost your happiness. In a well-known study by Duke University, researchers split 156 adult volunteers with major depressive disorder into three groups. They gave the first group antidepressants as therapy. They assigned the second group to an aerobic exercise program. And they gave the third group a mix of both. After four months, all three groups showed significant improvements in their condition. Amazingly, the effects of exercising were comparable to those of antidepressants. In fact, after ten months, those in the exercise group had less relapse rate. They stayed happy for longer. Exercise can boost your mood in many ways. On a physical level, exercise causes the release of endorphins - chemicals that promote a good mood - in your brain. It can also lower anxiety by helping you get used to the feeling of increased heart rate and blood pressure. You slowly stop associating these physical events with being worried. Exercise can also help improve your self-esteem and confidence as you push your limits. Overcoming challenges can give you a sense of pride. And this boost of self-worth leads to a better mood. Focusing on physical activity can distract you from the stress of your daily life and free your mind from the troubles of the past or future. Doing it with friends can boost your mood even more - you get the benefits of being active and socializing at once. Whether it is through the release of endorphins, improved self-confidence, stress relief, or social connections, regular physical activity can improve your life and make you happier.

Have you been exercising enough? What can you do to improve your fitness?