Thursday, February 5, 2009

Excercise Rewards and Happiness

Nobody likes exercising, but it plays a vital role in our happiness. People who work out regularly are generally happier. According to fitness author Debbie Mandel, "Two primary chemicals involved in making exercise feel good are cortisol and endorphins. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the body under stress, such as anger, anxiety or fear, and it ultimately inflames and damages our organs. Exercise burns cortisol, and thereby makes us healthier and happier."

The major problem with exercise is motivation. I always make excuses to avoid exercising. As a result I can't do many of the things I used to. A simple way to overcome this hurdle, is by rewarding yourself for exercising:

Last night the weather was so nice, my wife and I went on a hike. The hike seemed more like a test of endurance, since the trail was steeply inclined up the side of a mountain for what seemed like eternity. My wife, who has been exercising regularly, was not phased by the journey. I on the other hand considered lying down next to a tree to die. Eventually we made it to the top, and having been a track star in my younger years, I was embarrassed of my exhaustion, and lack of physical conditioning. I made a decision to motivate myself into exercising more. When we got back to the house, we had margaritas to reward our accomplishment.

Exercising does not always have to be a life a death situation, it can be as simple as taking the stairs up to you office, or going for a brisk walk around the block after dinner. Consider investing in a pedometer, and creating rewards for every so many cumulative miles. Maybe after 5 miles you can zero out the pedometer for a candy bar, or after 15 miles you could treat yourself to dinner out. Make higher goal oriented rewards, like after 50 miles get a massage. Each time you cash in your miles you must start from zero again. Making fun games like this will improve your longevity and quality of life. It only requires a little creativity, and the motivation to take the first step.

What are some of your exercise rewards?


Trey - Swollen Thumb Entertainment said...

I like your suggestions for zeroing out the pedometer and rewarding yourself. My only suggestion is to not use food as a reward. If you're a couch potato, get tivo, and allow yourself to watch one half hour of tv for every mile you walk. Bump everything you love to do down a notch, so that you have to walk in order to do the things that you love to do.

Dan Malone said...

That is a great idea, the nice thing about the pedometer is everyone can customize the rewards to their own needs.