Mighty Natural

What you need to know about the role your skin plays

What you need to know about the role your skin plays

Sara Brown, Professor of Molecular and Genetic Dermatology, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, University of Dundee
Cancer pain can be eased by palliative radiation therapy

Cancer pain can be eased by palliative radiation therapy

Jonathan Klein, Radiation Oncologist and Assistant Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Why some people can't stop running, according to sport psychology

Why some people can't stop running, according to sport psychology

Andrew Wood, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, Staffordshire University
Marijuana is a lot more than just THC

Marijuana is a lot more than just THC

James David Adams, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Southern California
Doctors need to talk through treatment options better for black men with prostate cancer

Doctors need to talk through treatment options better for black men with prostate cancer

Rajesh Balkrishnan, Professor, Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia
Vaping is an urgent threat to public health

Vaping is an urgent threat to public health

Elliott M. Reichardt, Research Associate, University of Calgary

We Know Exercise Fights Depression, But What If You’re Happy?

We Know Exercise Fights Depression, But What If You’re Happy?

A review of studies on exercise and happiness addresses some lingering questions about the effects of physical activity on positive health conditions.

The impact of physical activity on depression and anxiety is well known—and exercise is a common prescription for preventing or treating negative mental health conditions.

“…even a small change of physical activity makes a difference in happiness.”

Weiyun Chen, associate professor in kinesiology at the University of Michigan, wanted to know if exercise increased positive mental health in the same way it reduced negative mental health. Specifically, researchers examined which aspects of physical activity were associated with happiness, and which populations were likely to benefit from the effects.

To that end, Chen and coauthor Zhanjia Zhang, a doctoral student, reviewed 23 studies on happiness and physical activity. The 15 observational studies all showed a positive direct or indirect association between happiness and exercise. The eight interventional studies showed inconsistent results.

The studies included health information from thousands of adults, seniors, adolescents, children, and cancer survivors from several countries. Several themes emerged.

Exercise and happiness

“Our findings suggest the physical activity frequency and volume are essential factors in the relationship between physical activity and happiness,” Chen says. “More importantly, even a small change of physical activity makes a difference in happiness.”

Findings suggest a threshold effect for the relationship of happiness and physical activity—several studies found that happiness levels were the same whether people exercised 150-300 minutes a week, or more than 300 minutes a week.

The review of observational studies found that compared to inactive people, the odds ratio of being happy was 20, 29, and 52 percent higher for people who were insufficiently active, sufficiently active, or very active, respectively.

Several studies reviewed the relationship between physical activity and happiness in youth. One study found that young people who engaged in physical activity once a week compared to none had 1.4 times the odds of being happy if they were normal weight, and 1.5 times the odds if overweight.

Another study found that adolescents who were physically active at least twice a week had significantly higher happiness than those who were active once or less a week. An additional study found that college students who participated in physical activity had 1.3 times the odds of being happy than peers who didn’t participate.

Three studies looked at happiness and activity in older adults. One found that exercise was associated with happier adults. Another found that total minutes of exercise per week were positively related to happiness. However, the findings suggest that health status and/or social functioning mediate happiness.

Three studies looked at special populations. Among ovarian cancer survivors, meeting the 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity was significantly associated with happiness level. In children and adolescents with cerebral palsy, physical activity predicted happiness level, and among drug abusers, the number of weekly exercise sessions, regardless of intensity, slightly associated with happiness.

Limitations

In the intervention studies, physical activity included aerobic, mixed school activity classes, and stretching and balance exercises or 30 to 75 minutes from one to five times a week for 7 weeks to a year. Four of the intervention studies showed a significant difference in change of happiness between intervention group and control group, and three did not.

The review only looked at articles in peer-reviewed journals in English, which could lead to publication bias and overestimating the positive relationship between physical activity and happiness. Because there were limited randomized control trials, the researchers could not establish causation between happiness and physical activity.

The study appears in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Source: University of Michigan

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Health & Wellness

Doctors need to talk through treatment options better for black men with prostate cancer

Doctors need to talk through treatment options better for black men with prostate cancer

Rajesh Balkrishnan, Professor, Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia

Fitness & Exercise

Should Children And Adolescents Lift Weights?

Should Children And Adolescents Lift Weights?

Jordan Smith, Lecturer , University of Newcastle

Food & Nutrition

"If an overweight person is able to maintain an initial weight loss—in this case for a year—the body will eventually 'accept' this new weight and thus not fight against it, as is otherwise normally the case when you are in a calorie-deficit state," says Signe Sørensen Torekov. (Credit: Allie Kenny/Flickr)

After 1 Year, Weight Loss Gets Easier To Maintain

Richard Steed, University of Copenhagen