Happiness is... doing some exercise

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happy exercisers life lib INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS If the person next to you appears more enthusiastic about life, it may be because they are more physically active, say scientists. Photographer: Tracey Adams

London - If the person next to you appears more enthusiastic about life, it may be because they are more physically active, say scientists.

Such people report greater levels of excitement and enthusiasm than people who are less physically active, according to researchers in the US.

“You don’t have to be the fittest person who is exercising every day to receive the feel-good benefits of exercise,” said David Conroy, a professor at Penn State University.

“It’s a matter of taking it one day at a time, of trying to get your activity in, and then there’s this feel-good reward afterwards.”

Some 190 students were asked to keep diaries of their exercise, sleep and mental states for the study published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology.

Participants were instructed to record only those episodes of physical activity that occurred for at least 15 minutes and to note whether the physical activity was mild, moderate or vigorous.

Participants returned their diaries to the researchers at the end of each day for a total of eight days.

Professor Conroy added that “physical activity is so much more effective for treating depression rather than anxiety”, and “people dealing with anxious symptoms don’t need an increase in activation. If anything, they might want to bring it down some”.

Professor Conroy added that it often is hard for people to commit to an exercise programme because they tend to set long-term rather than short-term goals.

“When people set New Year’s resolutions, they set them up to include the entire upcoming year, but that can be really overwhelming,” he said.

“Taking it one day at a time and savouring that feel-good effect at the end of the day might be one step to break it down and get those daily rewards for activity. Doing this could help people be a little more encouraged to stay active and keep up the programme they started.” - Daily Mail

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