Theme Ride Thursday: International Day of Happiness—Plus Two New Profiles!

Get ready to embrace happiness in motion as we delve into the powerful connection between physical activity, music, and joy. Rather than simply breaking a sweat, riding a bike in cycling class to a kick-ass playlist sets off a cascade of positive effects that extend far beyond our cycling studios. Endorphins, often referred to as the superheroes of happiness, flood our bodies during exercise, creating a euphoric sensation akin to our very own happiness parade.

An indoor cycling class offers a unique blend of happiness-inducing elements, combining the scientifically proven benefits of exercise-induced endorphins with rhythmic pedaling to our favorite songs. It’s a harmonious fusion of two powerful happiness generators. While we all agree that indoor cycling to music is a double whammy of joy any time of the year, we get to highlight and celebrate this happiness party in our cycling classes on March 20 for the International Day of Happiness! 

Let’s look into the science of joy as it relates to what we do in the cycle studio.

Scientific research confirms that exercise acts as a catalyst for sustained happiness. It’s not just a fleeting burst of euphoria; it’s a pathway to long-term well-being. While exercising, your body is flooded with endorphins and those feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin. But it doesn’t end there—studies have shown that even after the exercise is completed, the happiness train keeps chugging along.

Science has also confirmed the magical powers of music. As the playlist begins, music starts working its magic on our bodies like a DJ for our autonomic nervous system, lowering blood pressure and setting the rhythm for our heartbeat. But that’s not all—it’s also working on our limbic system, stirring up all those good vibes and emotions. So, when the playlist is cranked up in the cycling studio and we sync our cadence and energy to the rhythm and melody, we tap into a reservoir of positive vibes that uplifts our spirits and enhances our workout experience.

Two New Dynamic Profiles

In celebration of International Happiness Day, we’re thrilled to introduce two exciting indoor cycling profiles designed to elevate your mood and invigorate your classes. Get ready to ride with Fern’s profile, “Happy, Happier, Happiest,” featuring three dynamic sets designed to take you on a journey from contentment to pure bliss.

Alternatively, dive into Jennifer’s invigorating profile, “The Happy Ride,” a HIIT workout comprising seven exhilarating intervals. While the intensity may challenge your limits, the uplifting tunes are sure to keep your spirits high throughout. And when you conquer each interval, the sense of joy and accomplishment will leave you beaming with pride.

ICA members can find both of those profiles and their playlists below.

There is a third profile on this theme called “Things That Make Me Happy” that I conceived back in November of 2020. While not specifically for International Day of Happiness, its creation stemmed from the desire to spread joy during the challenging times of the pandemic.

You can take my profile and change up the playlist with songs that resonate with the things that bring you and your riders joy, regardless of circumstances: family, pets, bicycles, nature, the beach, certain foods, or simply the beauty of being alive. Feel free to incorporate tracks that inspire movement and evoke the urge to dance, elevating the mood and energy of your ride.

Discover More Happiness: Spotify Bucket Playlists Galore

In the spirit of celebration, we invite you to explore a treasure trove of bucket playlists designed to elevate your mood and inspire a sense of joy. In this post, you will find a diverse array of six bucket playlists tailor-made for your own Happiness Ride. Each bucket playlist is curated around a specific theme, from celebrating joy and feeling alive to dancing and smiling. With a total of over 920 songs across these playlists, there’s something to uplift every mood and inspire every pedal stroke.


Why Do Songs Make You Happy?

We all have songs that ignite joy within us; it could be the infectious beat that moves your body, the hypnotic rhythm that transports you to another world, or the powerful lyrics that resonate deeply within your soul. Perhaps it’s the memory associated with the song, evoking feelings of nostalgia and happiness. Whatever the reason, finding a song that brings you joy often goes beyond its lyrics, encompassing the entire sensory experience it provides.

That’s where the power of personal connection comes in. As a cycling instructor with DJ vibes, you have the unique opportunity to bring your riders joy by soliciting song suggestions from them. There’s nothing quite like the elation of a rider and the smile that spreads across their face when their favorite song fills the room during class!

Curious to know which songs bring joy to our very own ICA contributors? Below, you’ll find a collection of their submissions, each song handpicked to evoke feelings of happiness and positivity. 

Jennifer Sage

Better Be Good To Me, Tina Turner, 121 bpm, 5:11
“Better Be Good To Me” isn’t about being happy, but the reason it makes ME happy is a combination of IT’S-FRIGGIN-TINA-TURNER plus how she empowered so many women with this song. You can find our Tina Turner theme ride here.

Lease on Life, Andy Grammer, 88 bpm, 2:48
“Lease on Life” by Andy Grammer has some amazing lyrics. Make sure to read the “About the artist” on Andy Grammer’s Spotify page. I wrote about him in a MMM a few months ago. He says: “I like to think of songs as invisible spiritual chiropractors, they bring us back to our center. They give us little reminders when we least expect it.”

I Feel Like Dancing, Jason Mraz, 112 bpm, 3:39
“I Feel Like Dancing” by Jason Mraz can help turn a frown into a smile with his lyrics “I feel like dancing. Even if it’s raining, I’m not complaining, I feel like dancing.”

Smile, Sidewalk Prophets, 112 bpm, 2:56
“Smile” by Sidewalk Prophets fits the bill perfectly for a song that gives you a reason to smile. “There’s always a reason to always choose joy; there’s something deeper that the world can’t destroy. Smile, when you think you can’t. Smile, get up and dance.”

Life is Better With You, Michael Franti & Spearhead, 97 bpm, 3:16
An artist who has so many amazing songs about happiness and appreciating life and love is Michael Franti. 

Mark Fiddler

Happy, Pharrell Williams, 160 bpm, 3:52
A classic song for happiness, profiled by ICA.

The Rain the Parks and Other Things, The Cowsills, 132 bpm, 3:04
This is an oldie but a goodie! Released in 1967, it has been making people happy for many, many years. The lyrics are “She had made me happy (happy, happy, she had made me very happy).”

Susan Lafond

The Place That Makes Me Happy, The Moss, 156 bpm, 3:01
Their sound reminds me of Vampire Weekend. They have a beachy, surf-indie vibe as they are from Hawaii. Subtitle this my “happy place.”

Happy, C2C, Derek Martin, 120 bpm, 3:55
“You’ll never feel happy, until you try.” The dancing in the video is incredible. What is even more inspiring are the number of videos posted by people who choreographed themselves dancing to this song. Jason Mraz chose it for his finale freestyle on season 32 of Dancing with the Stars this past December.

Bill Pierce

I’ll recommend specific songs that just make me feel good. I’m going to take a different approach to the other suggestions and offer a few (mostly) instrumental cuts, rather than songs about being happy. Without lyrics that the artists use to express their emotions, these songs allow me to evoke my own feelings just from the music. 
How Music Makes You Feel Better, Sofia Kourtesis, 130 bpm, 4:43
The Rest Is Noise, Jamie xx, 125 bpm, 4:58
Chasing Rainbows, Ulrich Schnauss, 110 bpm, 6:06 

Kala Markel
Ready to Go, Republica, 130 bpm 5:01
This is an energetic song that is both inspiring and motivating. It simply makes you happy and “READY TO GO!” We featured this song as a Mainstream Music Monday track here.

Black Horse and The Cherry Tree, KT Tunstall, 105 bpm, 2:52
The acoustic guitar and drumbeat will have you tapping your feet and bobbing your head instantly. It’s so catchy and charming.

Karen Cruz

Freedom! ‘90, George Michael, 92 bpm, 6:28
“Freedom ’90” is more than just a song—it’s a powerhouse anthem that ignites your spirit, prompting you to sing at the top of your lungs, flash a grin, bust a move, and soar to new heights. It’s the ultimate mood lifter, elevating you from simply feeling good to reaching euphoric heights of inspiration and joy.

Fern Stancer (and some songs suggested by her cyclists)

Murder on the Dancefloor, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, 117 bpm, 3:50
This song is a feel-good catchy track that makes you want to move. ICA highlighted this song here.

joy., for KING & COUNTRY, 120 bpm, 3:54
The rhythm and beat of this song make it danceable and joy-inspiring.
Fast Car, Luke Combs, 98 bpm 4:25
One of those songs you just feel in your soul.
Accidentally in Love, Counting Crows, 138 bpm, 3:09
It’s a fun, feel-good tune.
Innerbloom, RÜFÜS DU SOL, 122 bpm, 3:58
It’s good vibes—upbeat music that will constantly leave you in a better mood and state of mind. This track was featured as a Friday Favorite.

San Francisco, Mowgli, 93 bpm, 2:53
A catchy chorus and a punchy guitar make for a fun experience.


What songs make you happy?

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