How Exercise Can Make You Happy

Schwerd's Hurdle

"I work long hours at a cancer center and have lots of meetings. That makes it hard to get to the gym," Schwerd says. "I love my work, but it's intense—I help patients deal with life-and-death issues. I want to enjoy my job without feeling exhausted by it."

Newbie Breakthrough

"On day one, I took a killer conditioning class called Hard Core Cuts at Equinox. It was intimidating, but I felt connected to my body for the first time in a long time. The next morning, I actually woke up before my alarm and was like, 'Hello, world!'"

Her Week Two Breakthrough

"I fell in love with a class called Barre Burn, which incorporates Pilates moves. All my energy used to go into my job. Once I started exercising, I could work during the day, go to the gym at night and still have energy to spare."

Her Key to Calm

"When I'm on the elliptical, I put on my music and Zen out. My stress disappears."

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Six Weeks Later

"I've come so far from the girl who was cursing the day I agreed to this plan. I exercised for only four of the six days I was supposed to—my gym is by my office so it was easier to do it at lunch or after work than on weekends—but the program was life-changing. If I had 8 minutes, I'd get on the treadmill for 8 minutes. The more I exercised, the more in tune I got with myself. I moved to a new neighborhood I love and started going out to hear local bands again, which makes me happy. I'm no longer overwhelmed by work, and I fit into clothes that used to be too small. I'm hooked on the exhilaration of pushing myself physically."

Your Stress-Stopping RX

Three days of moderately intense aerobic exercise 45 to 60 minutes + one or two days of yoga + one or two days of strength training 30 to 60 minutes = a more serene you!

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"I Need a Mood Booster"

 Heather Finn, 35, talent agent

Finn's Custom Plan 

  • Walk with a friend or do a group class for 60 minutes one time a week
  • Strength training session with celebrity trainer Larysa Didio for 45 to 60 minutes one time a week
  • Cardio (jumping jacks, elliptical, bike, treadmill) 30 minutes three times a week

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About the Author

Ginny Graves

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

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