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Exercise to be happy!

Coming into 2011 many of us are making our New Year’s resolutions.  Apart from the usual resolutions of drinking and eating less, what about starting a new year’s resolution “to be happy”!

The ABC recently aired a program called Making Australia Happy.  The social experiment followed 8 volunteers on their journey testing the science of happiness.  With a team of experts guiding them, the volunteers participated in activities and tests to track their happiness levels.  The team of experts covered three areas- positive psychology, mindfulness and physical activity- to improve the happiness of the individuals.  Together with the subjective tests of happiness, the experts were able to scientifically prove these volunteers had indeed become happier through the various activities undertaken.  One test of interest was the pain tolerance test.  Studies have shown that the higher an individual’s level of hope and optimism, the higher their pain tolerance in the cold pressor test ie the more optimistic the individual, the longer they last in freezing water and the better they cope with the pain.  The volunteers of this show more than doubled their pain tolerance to freezing water through participating in the happiness program.

Some of the volunteers also put to test the research of green exercise.  Exercising releases the feel good chemicals endorphin, but by exercising outdoors research has shown it can reduce your stress levels and blood pressure.  The volunteers participated in surfing and found their mind was distracted and stress levels dropped by getting active outdoors and enjoying the stimulation of their environment.  For more information about Making Australia Happy click here.

A friend at Weight Watchers Magazine has compiled a list of 52 weeks of happiness and health from various experts.  It covers a variety of areas from organisation to relationships and diet to exercise.  Have a look (click here for the article) and challenge yourself to tick off each activity one week at a time.