How exercise can boost your happiness levelWhen Gabrielle Bernstein walks into a room, you can almost feel the energy change-the New York Times bestselling-author practically radiates positivity. She's busy sharing her inspiration through talks, books, GabbyB.tv, and more, including chatting with SHAPE about how staying fit can help brighten your spirits on even the worst day.
SHAPE: Studies suggest exercise can help lead to greater happiness. What do you think is the connection between the two?
Gabrielle Bernstein (GB): I equate physical activity with happiness not just from the perspective of producing endorphins but also from the perspective of really moving through emotions and getting stagnant energy to move through our body. When we move, we open up to our intuition and bust through a lot of the physical and emotional blocks that are often holding us back.
SHAPE: How do you maximize this benefit of exercise?
GB: Typically I meditate for 5 to 30 minutes after I work out to really take advantage of that time and that space that I've cleared.
SHAPE: What do you suggest women do to use exercise to improve their overall mental health and outlook?
GB: There are a lot of different exercises used for lots of different things. For instance, the trampoline has been proven to restore not just physical balance but also mental balance, so that's my go-to exercise for getting back into alignment and feeling more even about whatever it is that's going on my life.
SHAPE: What other types of workouts can boost positivity?
GB: Pilates is one of my favorites because you can get such great results in such a short period of time, and because there's so much emphasis on the breath, I always walk out feeling much more energized and happier. When we're not breathing, we're cutting off our connection to that vital source of not only serenity and peace, but also a sense of feeling connected to a body and to the world.
SHAPE: For people who prefer yoga, do you feel like yoga has similar benefits?
GB: Yes, in particular the Kundalini practice of yoga. It's very breath-oriented and deeply ingrained in physical motions that are repeated. That movement energizes you and disconnects you from a lot of negative energy that you might be holding on to. Kundalini yoga can also be beneficial for stress reduction, and obviously that is going to greatly benefit our happiness, reorganize our nervous system, and help us restore a sense of peace and serenity.
SHAPE: What's next for you?
GB: I have a new book, Miracles Now, coming out in April. It's loaded with super quick tips for reducing stress and anxiety, and getting out of your own way and out of a bad mood. I'm also working on a bunch of different TV stuff-including some shows with the OWN network and appearances on the TODAY show-putting myself out as a voice for spirituality, inspiration, and happiness, and hoping to help people understand the language of how to be happier.