3 Ways Exercise Creates Joy & Purpose With Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.

Along with helping you shape your identity, movement has intrinsic meaning. Purpose, as we are all familiar with here at mbg, is paramount in terms of happiness. Having purpose is beneficial for our mental and physical health, and McGonigal says that we subconsciously make meaning out of movement all the time. “Human beings are meaning-making machines,” she states. That said, we constantly are trying to make meaning out of the activities we do, sometimes without even knowing it. That’s why movement can have such a significant impact on our purpose, as the mind can naturally make meaning out of the action. Even something as simple as an afternoon stroll can be profound in terms of purpose.McGonigal agrees: “Walking is powerful because it’s a full-body experience, and it’s a metaphor. You are literally moving forward, and you’re on a path.”Overall, the true joy of movement is much more than a rush of endorphins we experience after a long run or hot yoga session. Even when you might not know it, exercising creates neurological responses that benefit so many aspects of our health. And, according to McGonigal, these mental health benefits may even outweigh the cardiovascular, heart-healthy effects of movement. “Movement is more than something you have to squeeze in because it will help prevent a heart attack 20 years from now,” she quips. If that doesn’t get you up and moving, I don’t know what will. 

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