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Not Happy With Life? Exercise More to Feel Good, Says Research

Update Date: Oct 26, 2012 09:34 AM EDT
Exercising
Exercising (Photo : Flickr)

The next time you feel that laziness is creeping in at a time you are supposed to hit the gym, tell yourself that you are doing it more than just for a body that you can flaunt. Researchers say, exercise not only keeps your body healthy, but also brings in peace of mind by increasing overall life satisfaction.

Researchers from Penn State have found through a new study that people reported being more satisfied with life on days they exercised more than usual, Medical Xpress reported.

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"We found that people's satisfaction with life was directly impacted by their daily physical activity," said Jaclyn Maher, graduate student in kinesiology. "The findings reinforce the idea that physical activity is a health behavior with important consequences for daily well-being and should be considered when developing national policies to enhance satisfaction with life."

For the study, researchers investigated the impact of physical activity on life satisfaction among young adults aged between 18 and 25 years. This particular age group was selected because apparently, people in their early adulthood tend to lose their sense of well-being quicker than any other age group.

"Emerging adults are going through a lot of changes; they are leaving home for the first time and attending college or starting jobs," said Maher. "As a result, their satisfaction with life can plummet. We decided to focus on emerging adults because they stand to benefit the most from strategies to enhance satisfaction with life."

For the study, the researchers recruited two groups of college students at Penn State. The first group consisted of 190 individuals, and the second consisted of 63. While the first group was asked to write down answers to questions pertaining to their satisfaction with life, physical activity and self-esteem into a diary every day for 8 days, the second group was asked to enter this information into a secure website every day for 14 days.

The personalities of all participants in the first group were assessed at the outset of the study using the Big Five Inventory short form, the report said.

The researchers also wanted to determine if in the second group, physical activity was indeed the cause of participants' increased satisfaction with life, rather than some other factor such as mental health, fatigue, or Body Mass Index.

"Shifts in depression, anxiety and stress would be expected to influence a person's satisfaction with life at any given point in time," said David Conroy, professor of kinesiology. "In addition, fatigue can be a barrier to engaging in physical activity, and a high Body Mass Index associated with being overweight may cause a person to be less satisfied in a variety of ways."

After considering all these variables, the researchers concluded that the amount of physical activity done by a person on a given day impacts his or her life satisfaction.

And also, increasing the exercise time of a person can significantly improve the way he or she feels about life.

"Based on these findings, we recommend that people exercise a little longer or a little harder than usual as a way to boost satisfaction with life," said Conroy.

The results appeared online this week in the journal Health Psychology.

 

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