Out of all exercises, it’s those that involve socializing that can really boost your morale

By Catherine Orda | Photo by Mi Pham /Unsplash

A study by researchers from Yale and Oxford found that compared to money, exercise can have more of a positive impact on your mental health.

The 1.2 million people who participated in the study were asked the question “How many times have you felt mentally unwell in the past 30 days, for example, due to stress, depression, or emotional problems?”

In addition, the participants were also quizzed about their income levels and the physical activities they engaged in. They were allowed to choose from about 75 different activities, which included housework, cycling, running, and weightlifting.

For money to make you as happy as exercise can, you would need to earn a significantly large amount

What the researchers found was that the participants who regularly engaged in exercise felt mentally unwell for around 35 days a year. Meanwhile, the participants who weren’t as active felt mental strain for 18 days more on average.

Another significant finding was that physically active participants were just as happy as the non-active participants, but who earned  $25,000 more a year. 

What all this means is that for money to make you as happy as exercise can, you would need to earn a significantly large amount—which, again, according to the study, is $25,000 more than the income of the active participants.

In a way, all this isn’t news, exactly. Studies have always pointed to a positive association between physical activity and mental health. Though of course there’s a limit to this positive association—that is, too much exercise can be detrimental to your mental health.  But how much is too much?

According to the study, exercise can only contribute to the betterment of your mental well-being if it generally falls under the following ideal: three to five training sessions each lasting between 30 to 60 minutes per week. Anything more than that can have a toll on your mental well-being. 

Lastly, the researchers concluded that out of all exercises, it’s the activities that involved socializing (i.e., team sports) that have the highest potential of making you happier.