Researchers from Yale and Oxford universities used data about the physical behavior and mental mood of over 1.2 million Americans and published their findings in The Lancet. They discovered that upon asking the question, “How many times have you felt mentally unwell in the past 30 days, for example, due to stress, depression, or emotional problems?” People who exercised more regularly only felt for 35 days a year, while their nonactive counterparts felt not so good for 18 days more, on average.
The teams also found that the group that is more physically active feels just as good as people who don’t do these kinds of activities but earn $25,000 more a year. Now that’s significant.
But interestingly the researchers found that the exercise needed to have some limits in order to be beneficial so the logic of thinking if you are constantly exercising then you will be constantly happy doesn’t apply. Three to five sessions per week with each lasting between 30 to 60 minutes was the ideal amount for the majority of people. If the exercise was more than three hours per day the researchers found that those people were actually unhappier than their non-active counterparts.
The researchers also looked at the type of exercise that was the most beneficial and found that if the activity had a social component it was especially enjoyable. The study said team sports were best but with the current pandemic that may be tough. However, approved socially distance sports like golf or tennis have social components as well as biking but even just doing an online fitness class with friends would work. Just feeling like you are doing a workout together can help. So cue up the video!