Let us all agree that physical activity is generally good for our health. There are different types of physical activity but the main 4 types are bone-strengthening physical activity, stretching, aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening physical activity. According to WHO, health benefits from physical activity are from all sorts, like a better control of your weight, decreased risk for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, improved mental health etc. Physical activity also increases the possibility to socially engage more as well as it increases performance at work and in students.

Like we said above, physical activity has been studied and has shown improvements in our health, like a decreased depression and anxiety as well as diminishing negative thinking. Since it reduces the negatively-thinking, does it do the contrary? Does it stimulate positive mental health in general?

This is exactly the issue which researchers wanted to deal with in their recent study “A Systematic Review of the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Happiness” published in the Journal of Happiness Studies during March and conducted by Zhanjia Zhang and Weiyun Chen from the University of Michigan.

They analyzed the types of physical exercises which tended to improve positive thinking and which community was expected to profit more from physical activities. Researchers analyzed 23 studies, related to happiness and physical activity, from which 15 studies were observational and 8 studies were interventional.

There was a significantly positive correlation between physical activity and positive mental health from the observational group meanwhile the interventional group demonstrated contradictory correlation. To be more specific, the repetitiveness and quantity of physical activity are essentially correlated with positive mental health in general. Researchers also saw that happiness and exercising are not proportionally related which means that no matter how much you exercise, there is a threshold for happiness increase. Studies showed that if someone did physical exercise more than 5 hours a week, there would be no significant happiness increase from those who exercised 2.5 to 5 hours per week. Physically very active participants had 52% higher chances of being happy compared to the participants who were physically not active meanwhile those who were physically sufficiently active had 29% higher chances of being happy.

Nevertheless, researchers suggest that there are needed further studies to better understand the cause of happiness and physical activity relation since this study only analyzed randomized data from different kind of studies which were not specific to the main issue.