Running is my form of meditation. Even on days when I find I have to drag myself out of the front door, I know I will return gently intoxicated, my mind mellowed by its rhythmic pace. Research has confirmed that even small doses of exercise can improve mood and reduce anxiety. But precisely how it makes us happier and how much effort is required to reap workout blissfulness is the subject of continuing scrutiny. Researchers are only now beginning to unravel the reasons behind the joy that many experience when they work out.

“The uplifting benefits of exercise are undisputed,” says Brendon Stubbs, senior clinical lecturer at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, “but until recently the mechanisms to explain them have

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