Could something as simple as moving more make you happier? Yes, a new study suggests. And you might start smiling after just 10 minutes of exercise.
It’s long been known that being physically active can ease depression and anxiety. But in this study, researchers wanted to know if exercise can produce a positive mental health effect in the same way it reduces negative ones.
To find out, they reviewed 23 different studies on the link between happiness and physical activity. And they found that even a mere 10-minute workout every week could boost happiness levels.
The takeaway? You don’t have to be a gym rat to be in a better mood. In fact, several of the studies indicated that there was a happiness-exercise threshold. In these studies, happiness levels for those who exercised for 150 to 300 minutes a week and those who exercised for more than 300 minutes a week were the same. Learn more about the study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, here.
Get happy—and fit
Some exercise is always better than none. To be fit and protect your overall health, most adults should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity (like brisk walking) every week. But for a better mood, it may be as simple as 10 minutes.
Feeling pressed for time? It’s OK to chunk your exercise and spread mini-workouts throughout your day. You might:
- Walk for five minutes, turn around and walk back.
- Do housework for 10 minutes—any activity that gets you moving counts.
- Get off your bus or train early and walk the last stretch.
You’re moving at a moderate pace if your heart is beating faster, you’re breathing harder or you’re breaking a sweat. Try the talk test too: You should be able to talk—but not sing.
Finally, a safety tip: If you haven’t been active for a while, start out slowly. And if you have a chronic health condition—such as heart disease or diabetes—talk with your doctor about what type of exercise is best for you.
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