Getting some good exercise could be the trick to a happier life
The study gathered data from 1.2 million Americans over the age of 18 using 2011, 2013, and 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System surveys. From that data, researchers compared the numbers of “bad self-reported mental health” days between participants who exercised and those who did not.
The participants were asked a series of questions about their physical and mental health over the last month in the survey, as well as their economic status and how much physical activity they get on a regular basis. The study took into account exercise type, duration, frequency, and intensity when analyzing the data. There were 75 different types of physical activity reported, anywhere from doing housework to weightlifting or running.
The study concluded that individuals who exercised had 43.2 percent fewer bad days than those who did not. According to Business Insider, physically active individuals felt just as good as individuals who earn an average of $25,000 more per year but didn’t exercise.
This isn’t to say that people with higher incomes don’t experience happiness. Only that exercise can be a key factor, especially for those with lower incomes.
The study goes further to say that the type of physical activity is generally not a factor, though some of the more popular kinds of activities that yielded the best results were team sports, cycling, and aerobic activities. It also noted that the best length of time and frequency for exercise tended to be around 45 minutes per session, three to five times a week.
This echoes other studies about the link between mental health and exercise, including one that found walking in nature for about 20 minutes per day could lower your stress. Another study posits that exercising only an hour per weekcould be enough to help depression symptoms.