The type of exercise did not seem to matter. Some happy people walked or jogged. Others practiced yoga-style posing and stretching.
And the amount of exercise needed to influence happiness was slight, Dr. Chen says. In several studies, people who worked out only once or twice a week said they felt much happier than those who never exercised. In other studies, 10 minutes a day of physical activity was linked with buoyant moods.
But more movement generally contributed to greater happiness. If people exercised for at least 30 minutes on most days, which is the standard American and European recommendation for good health, Dr. Chen says, they were about 30 percent more likely to consider themselves happy than people who did not meet the guidelines.
“I think the indications are strong that exercise can contribute to happiness and, while anything helps, a bit more is probably better,” she says.
But because most of the studies in this review were observational, she says, it is not possible yet to establish whether exercise directly causes changes in happiness or if the two just happen to occur together often. It could be that happy people are more likely to take up exercise and continue with it than
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