Do you feel happier on the days you've worked out and eaten well compared to those spent watching Netflix in bed accompanied by chips? It turns out there is a reason for it. According to a recent study led by the University of Kent and the University of Reading, fruit and vegetable consumption and exercise can increase happiness. The findings, first published Journal of Happiness Studies, enabled researchers to make a causal statement about the relationship between lifestyle and life satisfaction, added that these results are robust across income quartiles, region, education and age groups.
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"While a positive correlation between lifestyle and wellbeing has been previously identified, the present results enable us to make a causal statement about the relationship between lifestyle and life-satisfaction," says the study, which was carried out by using an instrumental variable approach. Delaying gratification and having self-control is essential, not just for better health and well-being but overall happiness. There also appears to be a gendered element. Both men and women gain satisfaction from physical activity, although men seem to benefit more from participation than women, points out the study.
The study was conducted by Dr Adelina Gschwandtner (University of Kent's School of Economics), Dr Sarah Jewell and Professor Uma Kambhampati (both from the University of Reading's School of Economics).
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In an article published on the University of Kent's website, Dr Gschwandtner said, "Behavioural nudges that help the planning self to reinforce long-term objectives are likely to be especially helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If a better lifestyle not only makes us healthier but also happier, then it is a clear win-win situation." Her thoughts are mirrored by Professor Kambhampati, who also pointed out, in the same site, that there has indeed been a shift, in recent times, towards better lifestyle choices. "To establish that eating more fruit and vegetables and exercising can increase happiness as well as offer health benefits is a major development. This may also prove useful for policy campaigns around environment and sustainability," she said.