Exercise Makes You Happier than Money, Say Yale & Oxford Researchers

Happiness stems from perception: a positive outlook reframes any circumstance, no matter what life throws your way. However, changing your outlook is easier said than done. It's hard and takes a lot of mental work, but practice is key--like anything, of course. And some people are better at being happy than others.

Luckily, being physically active has a profound and lasting impact on your mental state. In fact, exercise makes you happier than money. If you struggle with changing your mindset, try changing your exercise routine first.


The Study

In a recent study examining the connection between physical activity and well-being,  Yale and Oxford researchers (Chekroud, et al., 2018) surveyed just under one and a quarter million US adults for self-reported instances of bad mental health days. 


The Findings

Adjusting for variables such as age, race, gender, marital status, income, education level, body-mass index category, self-reported physical health, and previous diagnosis of depression, researchers tracked the impact of exercise on mental health. 

When compared to similar individuals, those who did not exercise had nearly twice the number of days in a month of poor mental health. Team sports yielded the most dramatic mental health improvement with cycling or going to the gym (a close second). These exercise sessions spanned 45 minutes, three to five times weekly. 

Across the board, physical activity resulted in improved mental health regardless of other factors, such as income, age, and marital status. This is why the researchers' findings are so significant.


What This Study Means for Mental Health

Money doesn’t buy happiness. It may alleviate stress by providing access to leisure activities, but perspective is key. Well-being is influenced by how you feel rather than circumstances. Exercise increases strength, improves blood flow, assists with food metabolism and the purging of toxins. It stimulates the production of endorphins and increases your levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. 

In the early stages of our evolution, our bodies relied on physical fitness. We had to find food or evade dangers. Physical activity became associated with wellness and security, as it remains today.

Exercise not only helps our bodies stay strong and healthy, but it also drastically lowers our risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression. People who exercise throughout adulthood tend to live longer, too.

At Advanced Health, we make sure to include physical activity in all our treatment plans, and for all fitness levels, that are tailored to the individual. If you haven’t been feeling your best CONTACT US TODAY! Advanced Health is here to support you in finding happiness and ensuring lifelong wellness.


Further Reading:

Chekroud, Sammi R et al. , “Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study” The Lancet Psychiatry. (2018). 5.9:739 - 746.

Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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