If you've been feeling sad lately, it's understandable to wonder about how to feel happier. Buzzwords like "endorphins" might pop up from friends, family, and articles online--and for good reason. After all, endorphins are some seriously powerful hormones that can boost your mood, though they're usually associated with physical exercise. While exercise has a lot of great mental and physical health benefits, you may find it harder to use the treadmill as a way how to feel happier. We hear you!
It can be tough to motivate yourself to hit the gym when you're feeling down in the dumps. That's why we're so relieved to hear about this new study that says you don't need to get super sweaty and out of breath to figure out how to feel happier. According to researchers at the University of Connecticut, simply getting up and moving around seems to reduce feelings of depression. And the news gets even better.
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The study shows that light physical activity, like going for a leisurely walk, was actually associated with the biggest emotional benefit, as opposed to vigorous activity, or simply sitting around and not moving so much.
“Compared to someone who is just sitting around all the time, if you’re somebody who simply goes for a walk here and there at a comfortable pace, you’ll start to see some benefits,” said the study's lead author Gregory Panza.
However, if you're into vigorous exercise, fear not. Exercising hard was not associated with your well-being in a positive or negative way.
Panza did acknowledge that the study was not able to directly show a cause-and-effect relationship between exercise and emotional health, and that more research is needed into this deeply complex topic. However, it does support the idea that some motion is better than no motion.
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“What’s nice about what we found is that it didn’t take a lot of effort to make a difference,” he said. “If we can somehow convince people to get off the couch and go for a little stroll, or go walk around a shopping center, they can potentially see a difference. It’s not necessary to push yourself to uncomfortable levels of exercise.”
We don't know about you, but we're in the mood for a leisurely walk right about now!