A study of older adults found that exercise had a significant effect on happiness. Participants who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous exercises for at least two hours per week reported being happier than those who engaged in more casual or passive forms of exercise. Other studies have reported that even a mere 10 minutes of activity can have a significant impact on a person’s mood.
Exercise can also make daily tasks easier. For example, research suggests that it is easier to focus when you are exercising, and it has been shown that exercise can decrease feelings of isolation. Another study reported that exercise can improve spatial memory.
Considering how common it is to recommend regular exercise, it makes sense that this may have a broader influence on our mental state. One study has shown that physical activity can increase our happiness by as much as 52 percent, which means that we’re much less likely to experience negative mental health conditions if we keep up our fitness routines. As a matter of fact, exercise is beneficial to all ages. Even children who start playing sports early develop better psychological mindsets. And as they age, they’re likely to continue their participation in sports.
Moreover, physical activity increases your sense of autonomy. It gives you a sense of control, which can be helpful in dealing with mental health issues. The key is to make it a habit. Setting attainable goals can help you maintain control, and doing the activity in a regular, predictable manner can make it easier to stick with.
Exercise also increases serotonin levels, which is a chemical that improves your mood. Serotonin can help to reduce anxiety, alleviate pain, and stimulate feelings of happiness. Exercising can also increase your sense of pride, and can help you build an optimistic and healthy body image.