Pursuing Happiness Concept #2: Exercise

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Digital Design by Daniel Prairie

If you have no idea what is going on, I recommend that you read this post first.

I can feel the groans and eye rolling already but don’t worry, this isn’t going to sound like a bad T.V infomercial. I am not going to give you advice for six packs abs, dropping pounds, or getting “shredded”…whatever the hell that means. This is about feeling happier and the role exercise plays in it.

To put it bluntly, physical exercise reduces stressful emotions. On those days when I feel like garbage, the best thing I can do is literally run away from my problems. As I jog through city sidewalks, back alleys and forest trails, my worries are blunted by the physical exertion. Of course, the worries still remain in a limited capacity, but I find they weigh far less on my mind after a run then before.

Remember that for this discussion, the point of exercise is to feel happier. Try to avoid getting caught up in counting pounds and comparing yourself to others. Like most things in life, there will always be someone out there who is more athletic and getting competitive is only going to lead to further stress. Down the road, if you like the exercise and want to focus on physical improvement then more power to you, but remember that at its core, we are looking at exercise as a stress reliever.

Applying the concept:

I have a bias towards running, having done it for many years as my go to stress reliever. The repetitive motion, the laboured breathing and the sense of progress as distant objects are brought near through human locomotion…so satisfying!

I accept however, that the vast majority of people think running is for chumps and people who like to prematurely destroy their legs (I can’t argue that last point). To these, I suggest cycling instead. If you are living in Winnipeg (and thus are very cheap), you can get a bicycle for under $60 at your community bike centre (typically open in the summer months). The only catch is that you have to build the bike yourself (with support from staff) using cold-war era parts. I personally dislike cycling due to wrist conditions and the fact that my bike is mildly out of date, hailing from Austria cirque 1984.

Don’t like cycling, try walking instead. Throw on ear buds and listen to whatever you want while you go, but the point is to be active. I personally enjoy walking home from work once a week. The hour and a half walk lets me catch up on podcasts and decompress from the week.

If you hate the way cardio exercise makes you feel in general, try lifting heavy things and then putting them back down in a repetitive fashion. There are even these places called gyms that will help you find heavy things to lift and give you a routine so you can lift heavier things in the future.

The point is to do exercise of some sort, three to four times a week for about thirty minutes each. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it. The stress relief will be immediate and allow you to much more easily manage your emotions.

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