Scientific Study Uses Smartphone To Prove This Is The Right Way To Improve Mood
Physical activity, both exercise and non-exercise, has far-reaching benefits to physical health. Although exercise has also been linked to psychological health (e.g., happiness), little research has examined physical activity more broadly, taking into account non-exercise activity as well as exercise.
Authors, Neal Lathia, Sandstrom, Mascolo and Rentfrow, examined the relationship between physical activity (measured broadly) and happiness using a smartphone application. This app has collected self-reports of happiness and physical activity from over ten thousand participants, while passively gathering information about physical activity from the accelerometers on users’ phones. Throughout the day, the app would send requests out—asking the nearly 10,000 participants to map out their emotions on a graph, including whether they felt more stressed or relaxed, depressed or excited, and so on.
The findings reveal that individuals who are more physically active are happier. Further, 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.
Those who had been moving in the previous 15 minutes were happier than those who had been sitting or lying down.
Overall, this research suggests that not only exercise but also non-exercise physical activity is related to happiness. This research further demonstrates how smartphones can be used to collect large-scale data to examine psychological, behavioral, and health-related phenomena as they naturally occur in everyday life.