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What makes you happier than money? New study says exercise

Researchers at Yale and Oxford collaborated to publish a study in The Lancet on the effects of exercising and money on human happiness. More than 1.2 million Americans participated to provide the data. As for the findings? Exercise makes more of a difference.

Now this may seem counter-intuitive to someone chasing that next big promotion or bonus with every fiber of their being. Perhaps you’re thinking about the times you’ve received a raise or gotten your bonus, and you’re thinking, “Well, I was definitely happier about that than the bike ride I went on last weekend.”

Of course you were. This is about your life from a broader perspective. We’re talking about daily happiness and satisfaction. The respondents who were physically active three to five times per week were just as happy as their inactive counterparts who earned $25,000 more per year. This is basically saying that you’d have to make MUCH more money to achieve the same level of happiness as someone who simply stays active.

It’s important to point out that these people aren’t record-breaking triathletes here (I’m sure some are). Physical activity in this study can be defined by all sorts of activities. If it gets your heart rate up, it counts. This includes mowing the lawn, taking care of children, biking, house work and much more.

It’s easy to see this research and brush it off. Starting a new routine and getting back into working out can be pretty daunting. But I can tell you from personal experience, I’ve never regretted a workout. It’s hard to replicate the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction you get after a long bike ride, tennis match, or gym workout (my activities of choice). Pit that against the well-known adage that “money can’t buy happiness,” and there you have it. Only this time, there’s a meta-study to support it.

Maybe you’ve lost sight of some of these lessons. That’s okay. What’s most important about all of this is that it’s not too late to start again. Chances are you’ll start again and again and again (guilty). But with each time you get out and get active, remember, you’re putting yourself in a better headspace.

Studies also show that regular exercise gives you more energy for your day (WebMD). So if you are chasing that big promotion, you’ll be even better equipped to put in the necessary hard work.

If you’re reading this and can’t possibly fathom mixing in anything else to your daily routine, there are still ways you can get active. Consider taking a walk at lunch from time to time, or biking to work. Whatever it is, find your activity of choice, and try to stick with it!

About Mike Wanta

Mike works on the Corporate Communications team at TDS and is the manager of the TDS Business Blog. He has a passion for all things business, storytelling, and teaching. Mike attended Edgewood College and earned degrees in English Literature and Journalism, while competing on the Men’s tennis team. He recently completed his Masters in Sustainability and Business. With his newfound free time, he plays music, tennis, and reads (a lot).

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