Happiness is largely about what we think in our minds but it's also influenced by what we do with our bodies!
The science of happiness, or more accurately the field of positive psychology, has focused largely on factors like optimism, engaging and connecting with others, finding meaning and purpose in what we do, setting and working towards achieving goals and practicing appreciation and gratitude.
These are predominately internal, psychological experiences that occur in our minds or our hearts PLUS some external interactions such as how we relate to others.
All great stuff.
But one thing that's missing from all of this and one construct that's not, in my humble opinion, received enough attention in the academic study of positive emotion is...exercise.
I've always included this in my CHOOSE model (HERE) but other models or theories have either totally ignored physical exercise or downplayed it's importance.
But this is a pity as there is, I believe, enough evidence to suggest that physical exercise is one of the most effective happiness boosting or mood enhancing strategies (as well as one of the most effective stress busters) BUT ALSO that it's cheap and available to everyone any time!
And I'm not the only one who thinks exercise is important:
In an ongoing survey we, here at The Happiness Institute, are conducting exercise is currently receiving more votes than any other strategy from our study participants (you can still vote for your favourite happiness strategy HERE) and
A recent study from the University of Maryland confirmed what others have found which is that exercise protects against future emotional distress (see more HERE)
And that's just a fraction of the mountains of evidence, let alone personal stories I hear daily on my travels, supporting the notion that exercise is important.
Now this is not to say we should all aim to become marathon running vegans (not that there's anything wrong with that). But it is to encourage you to think about this part of your life; and if you really want to experience real and meaningful happiness, if you want to fully thrive and flourish, then some form of regular physical exercise should be part of your daily routine.
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