Starting something new can be extremely difficult, especially when it is something like exercising in the gym or running in public – no wonder most of us get intimated by our goals of becoming more active and easily give up.
But if the main motivation behind becoming more active is to feel better, there’s a lot you can do to achieve your goal that doesn’t involve exercising or playing sports in public. Researchers are now saying that even light physical activity can drastically improve your mood and help you live longer. Still need more reasons to get moving?
Light Exercise Can Improve Mood…
The University of Connecticut conducted a study using 419 participants who weren’t physically active, but were still healthy individuals. The results showed that even adding a little bit of exercise to their daily routine increased their chances of living a happier life by changing the way they perceived their own well-being.
Even more surprising was the fact that the participants didn’t have to exercise intensely to see the improvements in their mood – especially since they were getting no physical activity before the experiment.
The lead researcher Gregory Panza explained that people whose main goal is improve their mood through physical activity don’t necessarily need to buy expensive gym memberships to reap the benefits. Instead, something as simple as a leisurely stroll without increasing your breathing or heart rate can make a significant improvement in your mood.
… and Increase Life Expectancy
Another study revealed that light exercise can even increase life expectancy in women. 6,382 female participants from the ages of 63 to 99 were asked to wear accelerometers every day to measure their level of physical activity while performing daily tasks except for when exposed to water whiling showering or swimming.
After one week, the participants handed in their accelerometers for scientists to accurately quantify their physical activity instead of creating self-reports which could be highly inaccurate.
For three years, the researchers observed the health of the female participants and discovered that there was a direct link between the physical activity and mortality. Women who engaged in light physical activity increased their life expectancy by 12%. Moderate to vigorous exercise had an even greater impact on mortality: there was a 39% increase in life expectancy with each 30-minute moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
Different Activity Level for Different Needs
12% decrease in mortality isn’t bad either – especially if all it requires from you is light household chores, casual walks for short distances or even taking the stairs occasionally. The researchers say that the effects are constant across all age, weight and ethnic groups.
In conclusion, professor LaCroix, the lead researcher from University of California said that general physical activity guidelines need to change in order to recognize the health benefits of light exercise which has been proven to decrease mortality in women.
So how much exercise should you be getting every day? The answer depends on your needs and goals. For example, for someone who is training for a marathon, light to moderate activity will probably not be enough. The same theory applies to mental and physical health: you need different levels of intensity and frequency in order to see the result you desire.
While light activity may boost your mood, and increase your life expectancy, the same level of exercise will not be enough to see a change in physique, stamina or energy level. The benefits of light physical activity are especially prominent in those people who come from a completely sedentary lifestyle.
Panza says that ‘more is better’ isn’t always the case with exercise and a little can go a long way in ensuring that you live a happier, healthier life. The sense of personal well-being that most participants in the study felt, also reflected in their choices outside the realms of physical fitness. Most of them were beginning to make healthier eating choices as well and feeling less stressed at work.