People who lead a more active lifestyle generally enjoy a better overall state of wellbeing and happiness than their less physically-active counterparts, according to new research. 44% of people feel wellbeing at its highest when playing sport or exercising.
The study* from Central YMCA surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults from across the UK and found that being physically active causes a 13% boost to wellbeing scores, while being less active depletes these scores by up to 19% – unveiling a 32% divide between the most and least physically-active in society.
The research revealed that those who lead physically active lifestyles attain the highest wellbeing scores – achieving 6.92 on an index of 10, against a national average wellbeing score of 6.13. In addition, almost half (44%) of research respondents said they felt wellbeing at its highest when playing a sport or exercising.
Commenting on the findings, Rosi Prescott, chief executive at Central YMCA, said: “These results confirm something we at Central YMCA have been aware of for a long time – physical activity greatly impacts our overall wellbeing and happiness. Our organisation works with people every day to help them lead more active lifestyles so we see first-hand how increases in physical activity can impact your mood, wellbeing and ultimately happiness. So, we’re not surprised that the research has shown those who are more active typically enjoy wellbeing scores that are up to a third better than those who are less active.”
The report also uncovered that those who had found themselves becoming more active over the last three years demonstrated an 8% uplift in wellbeing scores, while those whose fitness levels had decreased saw their scores fall by over a fifth.
Previous research from the Mental Health Foundation found participation in regular physical activity increases self-esteem, can help reduce stress and anxiety, and can work as a preventative measure when it comes to the development of mental health problems.
Rosi continued: “As we move into 2017, and many of us take on New Year’s resolutions, it’s a great time to reflect on whether we’re doing enough exercise in our daily lives. Even something as simple as a brisk 15-minute walk can make a world of difference. But don’t be fooled into thinking physical activity alone is the answer to better wellbeing and happiness – we need to ensure we have a good mix of exercise, mental stimulation and positive relationships in our lives if we want to truly reach our highest sense of wellbeing and self-satisfaction.”
*Participants of the nationwide study were asked to rate 14 statements to determine how various lifestyle factors, such as levels of physical activity, experiences of education, mental stimulation and relationships impacted overall wellbeing.
For the full report findings please visit: http://www.ymca.co.uk/