Did you know that exercise could hold the key to your happiness?
Happiness is a fundamental goal sought by many (Zhang & Chen, 2019). If it is compromised, one’s general life satisfaction, and sense of purpose are threatened (Khazaee-pool et al., 2015; Zhang & Chen, 2019). The benefits of physical activity on mental health are well documented (Khazaee-pool et al., 2015; van Woudenberg et al., 2020; Zhang & Chen, 2019).
How exactly does physical activity increase happiness
We can understand this by looking at our physiological response to exercise. Research shows that physical activity enhances the transmission of monoamines in the brain (van Woudenberg et al., 2020). This increases the production of endorphins, also known as a ‘happiness booster’ (Khazaee-pool et al., 2015). This complex response decreases depressive symptoms and anxiety whilst enhancing one’s well-being (van Woudenberg et al., 2020).
Additionally, physical exercise increases an individual’s self-esteem while reducing stress (Khazaee-pool et al., 2015). In one study, the average happiness scores in the experimental group increased significantly whereas the control group showed no changes (Khazaee-pool et al., 2015).
So, how much exercise?
Physical activity frequency and volume are essential factors to consider (Zhang & Chen, 2019). Even a small change can produce drastic changes of perceived happiness. As little as ten minutes of exercise can greatly increase one’s happiness (Khazaee-pool et al., 2015; Zhang & Chen, 2019). Further research is necessary to determine the optimal dose and type of exercise to reap the greatest benefits.
What are the final takeaways?
Engage in exercise for at least ten minutes per day and you are one step closer to happiness.
Khazaee-pool, M., Sadeghi, R., Majlessi, F., & Rahimi Foroushani, A. (2015). Effects of physical exercise programme on happiness among older people. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1111/jpm.12168
Van Woudenberg, T. J., Bevelander, K. E., Burk, W. J., & Buijzen, M. (2020). The reciprocal effects of physical activity and happiness in adolescents. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-020-01058-8
Zhang, Z., & Chen, W. (2019). A Systematic Review of the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Happiness. In Journal of Happiness Studies (Vol. 20, Issue 4). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-018-9976-0