The benefits of routine exercise have been well documented. Blaring headlines tout weight loss, muscle gain, lower cholesterol, improved mental health, sharper focus, stronger bones and a stronger heart, among other improvements.
But a new study has shown that exercise may actually be more important to happiness than wealth.
In a large survey of 1.2 million Americans, researchers from Yale and Oxford universities have shown that people who exercise are markedly happier than people who don’t — even if they have less income.
The study, just published in the leading medical journal Lancet, shows that people who are active report they have 35 days of poor mental health a year. Those who are sedentary report an average of 18 additional down days.
What is remarkable about this study, is that income seems to have less of an impact on happiness than we thought. On average, a sedentary person would have to earn an additional $25,000 to be as happy as a person who exercises.
There is a limit: The research also showed that more and more exercise does not correlate with increasing levels of happiness. It’s a U-shaped curve. Exercising three times a week for 30-60 minutes seems to have the most potent effect on happiness.
So put away your wallet, grab a pair of sneakers and make yourself a little happier than you were yesterday.