Physical Activity Benefits: Emotional Health

Want to be increase your happiness? Get moving! A recent Canadian study surveyed over 17,000 people on their physical activity level and their overall happiness. Researchers checked in with participants two years later and fours years later. After controlling for demographic and socio-economic differences, researchers found that people who were inactive during the length of the study were 2X as likely to be unhappy as those who were physically active during the study.

These results are not unusual. Scientists have long acknowledged the link between emotional health and physical activity. Another recent study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that children who were physically active were less likely to exhibit symptoms of depression, compared to their inactive peers.

Physical activity doesn’t have to be strenuous or time-consuming in order to provide mood-boosting benefits. One study published in the Public Library of Science tracked participants’ overall mood and physical activity levels using a smartphone app. For the purpose of the study, physical activity was broadly defined to include exercise and non-exercise physical activities. The study showed that participants who were more physically active during the day were happier overall.

While it’s true, there is no one route to a happier life, if you want to boost your mood and decrease your risk of depression, incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine is a great first step.