How Regular Movement Improves your Mood
It was recently the International Day of Happiness, which means that people all over the world were sharing their best practices for living a healthy, joyful life. This is a great day to appreciate the things that make us happy, set intentions for the year, and learn about how others are making small changes to bring some positivity into their day-to-day.
Of course, one of easiest changes that we can all make is to incorporate a little bit more activity into our lives. Because, while it may seem counterintuitive at first - it seems like we’re suggesting that you add more work to your life - the simple practice of moving more often throughout the day actually improves mood. Maybe it will seem a bit daunting at first, but it’s actually really easy, and you’ll start to see results much faster than you might expect.
How Are Happiness and Movement Connected?
Think about the following phrases that you may have heard when you’ve been feeling a bit down in the dumps:
Pick yourself up. Get back into the swing of things. Shake it off.
These are all expressions that we use to talk about getting ourselves out of a slump. What is interesting about these examples is that they all suggest movement of some kind. In other words, if you could just get yourself moving, you’ll notice your mood start to pick up as well. These little pieces of wisdom have lasted over the years because they work, and now we have the scientific evidence to back it up.
One study from the University of Cambridge, for instance, found that even light exercise, like taking a stroll or standing up periodically, is linked to improved mood and more broad perspectives on life. What this means is that you don’t have to make drastic changes like joining a gym (although we don’t discourage you from doing that if it gets you smiling), but rather that small changes can have big impacts on your overall happiness.
Another study out of Israel showed similarly encouraging results. Their participants only had to make minor adjustments (like sitting up straighter or pulling their shoulders back) for fifteen seconds to start noticing that their mood was being influenced by the movement.
So, How Can You Reap the Benefits For Yourself?
What these studies show is that you don’t need to do a whole lot to feel a whole lot better. Here are just a few suggestions we have to incorporate some movement into one of the places we spend most of our time: work.
1. Break up the monotony. If you have to sit in front of a computer all day, don’t feel chained to a traditional desk and chair. If you work on a laptop, this can be as easy as spending a half hour at your desk and the next half hour at a window ledge. Or, you might opt for a desk that transitions between sitting and standing so that you get a good balance of both. Another great way to break the monotony is to have a couple of different types of chairs around. For part of the day you can sit in a swivel, and maybe switch to a stool later on.
2. Set up visual reminders. Even though you may feel totally on-board with these changes now, many of us will inevitably fall into our old patterns. Keep yourself from getting bogged down by your
former stagnation by putting up visual reminders to encourage you to keep at it. Maybe this means setting up your adjustable desk in the standing position for the next day of work, or maybe leaving yourself a sticky note to remind you to get up and take a short walk.
However you decide to improve your mood in light of International Day of Happiness, we hope that you can make the commitment to adding a little bit more movement to the year. Not only will you be reaping the physical benefits of a body in motion, but we know you’ll be inspiring others with your smiles too!