Sports, Exercise, or even Manual Labour, All Make Us Happier
It’s no secret that physical exercise, especially cardio exercise, lift our spirits. Regular physical exercise are known for their many health benefits for the body, and of the mind. Even though the mind is part of the body, but that’s not here nor there. Anyway, scientists have come to the conclusion that physical activity, regardless of what form it comes in, be it sports, exercise or manual labour, make us happier.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge have published their findings based on some 10,000 smartphone reports. They made use of a mood-tracking app from Android, which showed that even moderate physical activity raises happiness levels, regardless of the people’s previous moods to begin with.
“Our data show that happy people are more active in general,” said the paper’s senior author Dr Jason Rentfrow, from Cambridge’s Department of Psychology. “However, our analyses also indicated that periods of physical activity led to increased positive mood, regardless of individuals’ baseline happiness. There have been many studies about the positive psychological effects of exercise, but what we’ve found is that in order to be happier, you don’t have to go out and run a marathon – all you’ve really got to do is periodically engage in slight physical activity throughout the day.”
When this type of research is usually made, scientists use a far smaller number of participants. And usually, the information is based on these volunteer’s recollections. This time, however, the number of entries was much higher – 10,000 participants- and the information gathered was taken, more or less “in real time”. Since much of what we remember is somewhat different and almost always incomplete, the mobile app helped the researchers have access to more accurate information, since people added it when it happened.
“Most of us don’t keep track of all of our movements during the day,” said study co-author Dr Gillian Sandstrom from the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex. “A person might track whether they went for a walk or went to the gym, but when asked, most of them probably wouldn’t remember walking from the desk to the photocopier, or from the car to the office door.”
Te app’s users imputed their emotional state on a grid, as well as how energetic or sleepy they were feeling. Without this mobile app, this kind of precise information gathering would not have been possible.
“This study shows how mobile and wearable technology really can allow social psychologists to perform large longitudinal studies as well as open a direct and permanent connection with the users for advice and intervention,” said study co-author Professor Cecilia Mascolo from Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory.