Here’s a little nugget of information that may motivate you to get to the gym: exercise puts you in higher spirits than money. Researchers at Yale and Oxford universities made the link after accruing data from over 1 million Americans.
The study, published in The Lancet, centred on physical behaviour and mental health. Researchers asked participants, “How many times have you felt mentally unwell in the past 30 days, for example, due to stress, depression, or emotional problems?”
They also asked questions about their income and a slew of physical activities such as running, weight lifting, cycling, lawn mowing, and housework, according to Business Insider.
On average, participants who exercised regularly reported feeling bad about 35 days a year, while non-active participants felt bad an additional 18 days.
As for the financial link, physically active people feel just as good as those who don’t participate in athletic activities and earn about $25,000 more a year than their active counterparts.
The logical conclusion would be that the more you exercise, the better you’ll feel. But researchers noted that “more exercise was not always better” and factors such as types of exercise, duration, and frequency also play a role.
The study found that the sweet spot is exercising 30 to 60 minutes three to five times a week. More than that can be detrimental to your health. Researchers determined that those who exercised more than three hours a day suffered more than people who didn’t exercise much at all.
Team sports, in particular, had a positive effect on participants’ mental health due to the socializing aspect. However, cycling and fitness classes also boost participants’ mood.
There’s another connection between exercise and salary. A 2018 study conducted by the fitness app Freeletics found that people who exercise regularly make $25,000 more than couch potatoes. Those who engage in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) make even more money. A survey of 2,000 Americans concluded that, on average, those who exercise on a weekly basis make $74,000, while those who never hit the gym earn an average of $49,000.
Those who don’t exercise are less social and tend to be less optimistic. For example, just 7 percent of the non-exercisers surveyed by Freeletics said they strongly agreed with the statement that they led fulfilling lives.
The takeaway? Exercise three to five times a week. You may or may not make more money, but even if you don’t you’ll feel pretty darn good.