exercise

It releases happy chemicals into your brain.

Dopamine, a chemical that plays a role in happiness, is a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s necessary for feelings of pleasure and happiness.

Many studies suggest that as we age, we’re constantly losing our stores of dopamine, which is why we need to constantly seek out experiences that release dopamine.

The best way to increase your brain’s dopamine production? Exercise. So run, lift, jump, play — and get happy.

It makes you less stressed out.

Not only will working out ease stress in the short term by helping you sweat out the day's worries, regular exercise will help you become less stressed out in the long term as well.

That’s because when you exercise, you’re actually subjecting yourself to a low-level form of stress by raising your heart rate and triggering a burst of hormonal changes. When you subject yourself to the stress of exercise enough, your body will eventually get better at handling the rest of life's stressors.

And less stress equals a happier, healthier life.

It energizes you.

You no doubt have days when you just feel too tired to exercise, when working out is the last thing in the world you want to do.

But no matter how exhausted you are from a long day at work, taking care of your family or recovering from a busy weekend, do your best to muster up all the willpower you have and still work out, because more likely than not, you'll feel more energized after your workout than you did before it.

So the next time you force yourself to get off the couch and get into workout mode, you’ll most likely feel more energized throughout the rest of the day. And more energy equals greater happiness.

It boosts your confidence.

When you don't feel good about your body or how you look, it's all too easy to have low self-esteem. And that can have a negative effect on all areas of your life including your relationships, your career, and your goals and aspirations.

But when you start to exercise and see your body transform, that can quickly change. Because exercise will not only make you like how you look, it will also make you feel stronger, more independent, and more confident. There's nothing like a boost significantly more likely to improve and more likely to adhere to recommended treatments than Black patients, and to be more personally responsible for their health than Black patients. 

“If patients have good patient-centered interactions with their doctors, we know they’re more likely to follow through with care, make follow-up appointments and better control diseases,” said Lisa a Cooper, M.D., M.P.H, who was part of the John Hopkins study.

“We need to continue to examine if medical providers have preferences for some groups over others, either implicit or explicit, and how that affects treatment, expectation for patients success, and interactions with patients,” said “Sylvia Perry, PhD, a co-author of the 2017 study.

Public perception is that medicine is based only on science, which is removed from bias and racism, said Natalia Neha Khosla, also a co-author of the 2017 study.

“This work and scores of studies before show that’s not the case,” she said. “Science and medicine are not invulnerable to the effects of racism, because we are humans and are shaped by our environments.”

Addressing the Issue.

While some White Americans like to pat themselves on the back for being racially color-blind, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that White aware of their biases are better equipped to address contemporary racial challenges, where prejudice is often expressed in subtle, unintentional and unconscious ways.

“The first step towards reducing these subtle biases and correcting behavior that is sometimes unintentionally hurtful, our research shows, is personal awareness, internalizing the fact that you may have subtle biases, said Sylvia Perry, the lead author of this study.

The study, of 902 white Americans, employed a variety of established psychological tests to assess racial attitudes and a new assessment that gauged subjects’ “bias awareness,” a trait never before defined and researched. The bias awareness test asked subjects to score a series of statements such as, “When talking to Black people, I sometimes worry that I am unintentionally acting in a prejudiced way” designed to uncover awareness of subtle bias.

Those who scored high in bias awareness were more able to internalize negative feedback about their racial attitudes, telling researchers they felt badly when given false feedback that they had a strong preference for whites over Blacks, and to take positive corrective steps, volunteering in greater numbers for a diversity initiative the researchers invented, than those with low bias awareness, who reacted defensively to negative feedback and were unwilling to change their behavior.

Both results occurred regardless of how subjects scored on other tests they were given that measured their level of prejudice or their motivation to be non-prejudiced. The key factor in developing what the study calls “concerned awareness” of racial bias is acceptance, Perry said. “If you accept these things in yourself, you’re on the road to making things better.”

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