Does Exercise Make You Happier Than Money?



Research has proven that people who exercise regularly are happier than inactive people who earn $35, 000 a year more.

Money can’t buy you happiness, but fitness can, according to a new study by researchers at Oxford and Yale.  

The study, published last year in The Lancet, involved over 1.2 million Americans over the course of 3 years. The participants studied underwent extensive questioning about their physical activity levels as well as their happiness, stress levels, mental health and emotional wellbeing.

The results showed that those who partake in regular physical activity are happier than inactive people who earn US $25,000 a year more than them (that’s over AU $35, 000!). 

Those studied who did not exercise experienced feelings of stress, unhappiness and emotional instability for an average of 18 days more per year than others with similar physical and sociodemographic circumstances who did regular physical activity. 

However, not all exercise is created equal, and some forms of physical activity were shown to producer higher happiness levels than others.

The highest levels of happiness were seen in those who participated in team sports, whose annual unhappiness rates were 22.3% lower than their non-exercising counter-parts. This was followed by cycling, which was 21.6% lower, then aerobic and gum activities, which were 20.1% lower.

team sport
The study showed team sport to be linked with the highest levels of happiness.

Exercise durations of 45 minutes, 3-5 times per week showed the most positive impacts on mental and emotional wellbeing. 

The results of the study are undoubtedly linked to the fact that physical activity causes the brain to release endorphins – the body’s natural chemical responsible for relieving stress and pain.

The release of endorphins caused by exercise gives the body a natural “high,” elevating mood and boosting energy levels. 

However, the report also suggested that exercising too much can be detrimental to your mental health. Participants who partook in exercise for longer than 3 hours each day were shown to be worse off than inactive participants.

Your happiness and fitness levels aren’t the only things influenced by physical activity. Click here for Tiff Hall’s article on ‘8 surprising things that happen when you exercise.”

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Sarah Carroll


Sarah navigates health and fitness alongside a sinful sweet tooth and an unfortunate tendency to splash her savings online shopping, eating out or buying $10 cocktails at happy hour. With a love for yoga, animals and musical theatre, Sarah is rarely found without a peppermint-green tea in hand, tearing up over animal videos on Instagram.

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