Brisk walking, gardening or weightlifting help you lose weight. But did you know that exercise can also make you a joyful person? According to a new study, the frequency and volume of physical activities undertaken may actually boost your level of happiness. The team of researchers noted that the youth who engaged in physical activity once a week compared to none had 1.4 times the odds of being happy if they were normal weight, and 1.5 times the odds if overweight. Physical exercises also increased positive mental health in the same way as it cured negative mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
“Our findings suggest the physical activity frequency and volume are essential factors in the relationship between physical activity and happiness,” said Weiyun Chen, associate professor at the University of Michigan.
“More importantly, even a small change of physical activity makes a difference in happiness,” Chen added, in a paper published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.
The meta-analysis of 15 observational studies revealed that, compared to inactive people, the odds ratio of being happy was 20, 29 and 52 per cent higher for people who were insufficiently active, sufficiently active, or very active, respectively.
In children and adolescents with cerebral palsy, physical activity predicted happiness level, and among drug abusers, the number of weekly exercise sessions, regardless of intensity, was slightly associated with happiness.
They also found an association between happiness and physical activities in older adults.
In addition, meeting the weekly target of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity was significantly associated with higher happiness level among ovarian cancer survivors, the researchers said.