Research shows a positive link between physical activity and happiness, with even small amounts of physical exercise being linked to increases in happiness. It is important to note that when we talk about exercise, this does not necessarily mean running for miles or hitting the gym. Research studies have shown that regular physical activity boosts happiness. This includes less strenuous activity, such as standing up from your desk regularly or taking a short walk, and small amounts of it.
It can seem daunting to try and fit a run or gym session into our day, especially if we are already feeling overwhelmed or like there are too many things to do in a day. Making time to take a short walk or incorporating it into existing parts of our day is much more doable. Try to think of small ways to incorporate physical activity at first, such as taking the stairs at work instead of the lift or walking around the office park during lunch. Another great idea is to do a few stretches before bed or when you wake up in the morning.
Try to be mindful of your body and your breathing during your physical activity or exercise. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and how it feels. This is a great time to practice your mindfulness as well! By being mindful while exercising or being active, your mind is focusing on a single thing – such as your breathing – and not on all the racing thoughts or worries you may be experiencing. This may bring about an added boost of happiness and positive feelings.
Another source of physical activity or exercise which may appeal to you is sports. A study by researchers from Dalhousie University examined the relationship between membership of a sport or leisure organisation and happiness. They found that sports memberships are linked to increases in happiness. The social component of belonging to an organisation and the shared sense of unity may also contribute to one’s sense of happiness. So, if there was a sport you used to play and enjoyed, starting up again may help boost your happiness!
It is important to incorporate something that you enjoy and something that is manageable if you want to stick with it. Set small, realistic goals for yourself when starting to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. As long as you get your body moving, that’s a good start!
Let Hey Happy be your cheerleader! Let’s move that body
written by Kerryn Giles, Educational psychologist.