A Little Movement a Day to Keep Happiness at Bay

A Little Movement a Day to Keep Happiness at Bay

Counting your steps — and beating the friendly competition — can give you a sense of accomplishment. It might help you pick up an exercise habit, which can help you lose weight, sleep better and more. Such movements can also make you happier, according to a recent article in The New York Times.

In some ways, we knew this already: It’s been well-established that regular exercisers are less likely to develop mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. But as the Times reports of a new study published in PloS One, much of the past research has focused on negative moods, relying on self-reported activity (which can be inaccurate), instead of objective data to support recommendations.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Cambridge tracked the behavior of more than 10,000 people via an Android app. The app asked participants to enter estimations of their current mood by answering a standard questionnaire. Eventually, it layered in questions of movement as well as mood, to track which movements were most associated with happiness.

The results? “People who are generally more active are generally happier and, in the moments when people are more active, they are happier,” concludes Gillian Sandstrom, a study co-author who was a postdoctoral researcher at Cambridge and is now a lecturer in psychology at the University of Essex.

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That sounds like a compelling reason to move. And even better? The findings don’t necessarily point to formal exercise, either, like the high-intensity interval training that’s so en vogue, as the most happiness-boosting.

Gentle walking was the most commonly reported activity linked to mood, with running, cycling and more strenuous exercise appearing later. Yet another reason to hit your 10,000 steps.

What to Read Next:

4 Things Happy People Do Every Day

Changing Your Mindset to Improve Your Health

The Best and Worst Foods to Eat for Anxiety

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