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March 6, 2023. “Happier People Live More Active Lives: Using Smartphones to Link Happiness and Physical Activity”. That’s the title of this recent report. Let’s clarify a couple of things here: people are happier when they’re being more active; and, smartphones didn’t produce happiness or activity, they just collected data.

So put away the phone and start moving. Here’s the conclusion of the research report:

The frequency with which people physically move throughout the day, even if that movement is not rigorous exercise, is associated with both physical health and happiness ¦ individuals are happier in the moments when they are more physically active. These results emerged when assessing activity subjectively, via self-report, or objectively, via participants’ smartphone accelerometers. Overall, this research suggests that not only exercise but also non-exercise physical activity is related to happiness.”

The researched tracked the activity and self-reported happiness of 10,000 people. Each subject reported how happy – or unhappy – they felt periodically throughout each day. Meanwhile, their smartphone„ accelerometer tracked their physical movement and activity level. Sure enough, we’re happy when we’re moving. Not so much when we’re sitting. So Don’t Just Sit There. Move as often as possible and get happy. While you prevent becoming obese, developing diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Even Happier
Activity makes you happier. So does being in a green environment. A walk in the park delivers a sense of calm. Peace of mind. This amazing piece of research shows how quickly it delivers. And how little green it takes to contribute to your physical, mental and emotional health. Better and Cheaper than prescription drugs. Not necessarily Slower.

Virtual Happiness
Turns out that exposure to natural, green environments is so beneficial that even video and photos of nature help you feel and perform better. This studycompared the emotional responses of participants exposed to a sequence of natural and urban landscape images whilst running on a treadmill in a laboratory. Mood and self-esteem both improved with exposure to natural scenes, suggesting that exercise may deliver greater benefits when it occurs in the presence of nature, even if it’s nature depicted on a video screen.

“Nature can provide cognitive benefits in much shorter timeframes, and in smaller amounts than previously demonstrated, the authors of the other study concluded. They used a tedious, stressful computer task to determine how quickly and accurately the research subjects could perform it. For one test group, repetitions of the task were interrupted by 40-second “micro breaks of nature images on the computer screen. Their speed and accuracy improved markedly and they reported, subjectively, that the short breaks were “restorative. The other test group saw urban landscape images during their micro breaks; their performance did not improve.

What to do
Take a walk in a green park. Or when you’re stuck indoors – c’mon, you knew this was coming – stand up, move your feet and watch one of my Treadmill Trails videos on your smartphone or tablet. And like a few customers have admitted to me, turn off the sound and watch the video at your desk while you’re working – they say it’s really relaxing.

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