Small amounts of exercise could have an outsize effect on happiness.
According to a new review of research about good moods and physical activity, people who work out even once a week or for as little as 10 minutes a day tend to be more cheerful than those who never exercise. And any type of exercise may be helpful.
The idea that moving can affect our moods is not new. Many of us would probably say that we feel less cranky or more relaxed after a jog or visit to the gym.
Science would generally agree with us. A number of past studies have noted that physically active people have much lower risks of developing depression and anxiety than people who rarely move.
But that research centered on the relationships between exercise and psychological problems like depression and anxiety. Fewer past studies explored links between physical activity and upbeat emotions, especially in people who already were psychologically healthy, and those studies often looked at a single age group or type of exercise.
On their own, they do not tell us much about the amounts or types of exercise that might best lift our moods, or whether most of us might expect to find greater happiness with regular exercise or only certain groups of people.
So for the new review, in The Journal of Happiness Studies, researchers at the University of Michigan decided to aggregate and analyze multiple past studies of working out and happiness.
Source: The NY Times