We seek greener pastures elsewhere while the prized possession remains right in front of our eyes. Happiness cannot be sought elsewhere but it is in our hands to decide how we lead our life. Money can buy many things in life-clothes, food, home and even comfort keepers who give company to the lonely and elderly in return for money-but one must always remember that nothing can buy love, happiness and joy in life. Happiness isn’t going on a grandeur vacation or buying expensive jewelry but the way you treat yourself in life, the efforts that you make in every situation and how rapidly you can lighten up a serious or dull situation. Human health includes both mental and physical well-being. A fit body without a fit mind is valueless as it is the mind-body coordination that helps an individual achieve great things in life.
Old Wine in a New Bottle
Exercise is advantageous for the body and there are innumerable studies establishing this fact. What’s new is that physical activity can also boost your happiness, according to a study. It is natural for many people to depend on exercise in the form of a brisk walk, jog or running on the treadmill to overcome stress, anxiety or a bad day at work/home. In short, exercising helps to stave off negative mental health and this concept triggered a group of researchers to analyze whether the same exercise could boost positive mental health too. This group reviewed 23 studies on happiness and physical activity of which 15 studies showed a greater association (directly or indirectly) between exercise and happiness. The remaining 8 studies showed inconclusive and inconsistent results. All these studies involved a variant population including adults, elderly, adolescents and children.
Comparison of studies showed that compared to inactive people the degree of happiness was 20, 29 and 52 percent higher for people who were insufficiently active, sufficiently active or very active respectively. The frequency and amount of physical activity decided the strength of relationship between physical activity and happiness. While slight differences in the amount of physical activity performed caused variations in happiness quotients the studies showed that happiness levels remained the same above the 150 minutes of activity performed each week-it was the same at 150, 300 or above 300 minutes of weekly activity.
Different studies were an eye-opener on different things. One study showed that normal weight people who exercised once a week were 1.4 times happier and overweight people were 1.5 times happier. One other study showed that adolescents who exercised twice a week were happier than those who exercised once or less than once a week. Three studies that looked at the relationship between happiness and activity between older adults came to the conclusion that-exercise paved way for happier adults; total exercise minutes every week was positively associated with happiness and happiness was affected by an individual’s health status and social functioning.
What the researchers failed to analyze was the type of exercise that granted maximum happiness, but general analysis showed that aerobics, stretching and balance movements were helpful than any other exercises comparatively.
Building Blocks to Happiness
Exercise helps the body stay away from depression and anxiety by preparing the body to deal with stress in a subtle way. Our body’s activeness quotient determines our ability to deal with stress. The adrenaline rush you experience after running or exercising might be due to elevated endorphin levels but there are no strong studies on this. Different ways exist to deal with stress and many of them are defined in the website www.firsteatright.com.
Having a bad day at work- head directly to your gym after work; Financial crisis? Go for a group exercise class; Faced a terrible day at school? Play a game of basketball or do Zumba. Minimizing negativities in your brain and maximizing positive feelings are crucial for mental well-being. Do it with exercises and have a happy time.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.