According to a new study of good mood and physical activity, even people who exercise only once a week or only exercise for ten minutes a day are happier than those who never exercise. And any type of exercise may be useful.
Exercise can affect our emotions, and this view is not new. Many of us may say that after jogging or going to the gym, it will feel less irritating or more relaxed. Science is also generally on our side. Some studies in the past have pointed out that physically active people are at a much lower risk of depression or anxiety than those who are less active.
But those studies focus on the relationship between exercise and psychological problems such as depression or anxiety. Previous studies have rarely explored the link between physical activity and optimism, especially for those who are mentally healthy. Moreover, in the past, those studies usually only looked at a single age group or a certain type of exercise. From a single perspective, they can’t tell us how much exercise or which type of exercise can best help us improve our mood, or whether most people can get more happiness through regular exercise, or only a certain type of person can.
Therefore, in this new review of the Journal of Happiness Studies, researchers at the University of Michigan decided to summarize and analyze past studies on exercise and well-being. They first combed the research database of related research and compiled 23 articles published since 1980. Most of them are observational, that is, scientists only observe a group of people, ask about their exercise and how happy they are. Some of the research is experimental–after people start exercising, the researchers measure how happy they are before and after exercise. The number of participants in any study is usually small, but it accounts for more than 500,000 people. The age distribution ranges from adolescents to old ages, covering a wide range of ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that for most of them, there is a strong connection between exercise and well-being.
”Every observational study shows a positive link between physical activity and happiness”, said Chen Weiyun, an associate professor of human kinematics at the University of Michigan. She and her graduate student Zhang Zhanjia wrote this review. Some people will feel happy when walking or jogging. Others practice yoga or stretch. Chen Weiyun said that to affect happiness, the amount of exercise required is small. In some studies, people who exercise once or twice a week say they are happier than people who never exercise. In other studies, 10 minutes of physical activity a day is also associated with a happy mood. But more exercise usually leads to greater happiness. Chen Weiyun said that if people follow the recommended health standards proposed by the United States and Europe, they usually exercise at least 30 minutes a day. They think they are 30% more likely to be happy than those who do nothing.