The Best Exercises for Happiness


It’s the dreaded beach body season. The adverts abound with images of the body beautiful, all toned, all tanned, all lithe and long and frankly lacking the common touch. Very few of us look like models, even on our best days. I’ve noticed an increase in the quantity of diets on offer too on social media. Not to mention some ‘new’ diets: The Keto diet, the 16/18 diet and so on.

Diets don’t work. Bare fact is that dieting is at best only a temporary solution. The body of scientific evidence and research demonstrates that the average person on the average diet regains all their lost weight and often more. We need to stop thinking about weight loss as a goal and start shifting perspectives about how to maintain healthy weights and, importantly, encourage people to feel happier about themselves.

And this is where exercise is important. Any exercise. It doesn’t have to be glamorous, or in colour co-ordinated kit, in expensive kit or in an organised manner. It just has to get you moving and, ideally, having fun. Like pausing on a beach on wild Summers’ day, post kayaking, to frog balance, just for fun. Sure I don’t look fabulous but that’s entirely the point!

So here’s my guide to exercising for happiness:

  1. Exercise your ability to get outdoors
  2. Exercise your body in any way that suits your physiology, budget and time
  3. Exercise your right to occupy space, whatever your weight and body type
  4. Exercise your belief that you are enough as you are
  5. Exercise not comparing yourselves to others
  6. Exercise putting your phone away
  7. Exercise restraint with treats, one a day works well as a guide
  8. Exercise caution with alcohol, it’s a depressant and, if you’re struggling to stay positive, it’s unlikely to be helpful
  9. Exercise skepticism about quick fixes, diets and cleanses – they’re after your money not your wellbeing
  10. Exercise delight in everything your body can do, how it functions, how well it carries you through life not how it appears
  11. Exercise pride in a body that has nourished life, withstood disease or accident and bears the scars
  12. Exercise love for yourself not envy of others. They are probably on their own journey of acceptance
  13. Exercise working to long term goals
  14. Exercise the beauty of rewards for accomplishments, be proud of yourself
  15. Exercise happiness in the fact that change only comes to those who make changes, however small – they’re significant


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