If you enter the gym with your shoulders slumped and a frown on your face but find yourself smiling and humming after your workout, you're not alone. Exercise often does wonders for a person's personality. The next time you feel down, drag yourself to the gym or go for a run around the block -- you'll very likely feel better because of exercising.
Endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain, are largely responsible for the feelings of joy or euphoria you experience when working out. Many people refer to this feeling as a "runner's high," but running isn't the only type of exercise that results in the release of endorphins. Your brain releases them any time you exercise, whether it's lifting weights, playing a team sport or swimming laps in the community pool. The happy mood you experience after working out isn't just your imagination; your body has actually released chemicals to cause you to feel this way.
Confidence and Outlook
For many people, exercising creates a shift in their level of confidence or their outlook on life. Sure, it's comforting to curl up on the couch and enjoy a bowl of ice cream, but a part of you might feel guilty for doing so, especially if you struggle with your weight. When you work out, you know that you're improving your body, which can boost your confidence and cause you to feel more optimistic.
While exercise makes you feel even better when you're already happy, it can quickly help melt stress away when you feel worn down or overwhelmed. Some types of exercise, such as swimming, have a calming, meditative effect; it's just you and the pool. Other examples, such as boxing or tennis, require such a fine degree of focus that you won't have time to think about how stressed you've been feeling.
Even if you're an introvert by nature, it's common to develop a more outgoing personality through exercise. As your body releases endorphins, you begin to shed your feelings of stress and improve your confidence, it gets easier to be more outgoing with those around you, whether you're a member of a gym or play in a recreational sports league.
- MayoClinic.com: Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms
- The New York Times: Yes, Running Can Make You High
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress
- Harvard Medical School: Exercise and Depression
- Harvard Medical School: Benefits of Exercise -- Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Helps Fight Depression, From Harvard Men's Health Watch
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.