A new study has found improved satisfaction levels among young adults aged 18-25 years on days when they exercised more often than usual.
"We found that people's satisfaction with life was directly impacted by their daily physical activity," said study author Jaclyn Maher, graduate student in kinesiology at the Penn State University.
"The findings reinforce the idea that physical activity is a health behavior with important consequences for daily well-being and should be considered when developing national policies to enhance satisfaction with life," added Maher, the journal Health Psychology reports.
The researchers examined the influence of physical activity on satisfaction with life among emerging adults aged 18-25 years because this population's sense of well-being appears to worsen more quickly than at any other time during adulthood, according to a Penn statement.
"Emerging adults are going through a lot of changes; they are leaving home for the first time and attending college or starting jobs," said Maher.
"As a result, their satisfaction with life can plummet. We decided to focus on emerging adults because they stand to benefit the most from strategies to enhance satisfaction with life."
The researchers recruited two groups of college students at Penn State. The first group, consisting of 190 individuals, entered information into a diary every day for eight days.
The second group of 63 individuals, entered information into a secure website every day for 14 days. Both groups answered questions aimed at determining participants' satisfaction with life, physical activity and self-esteem.
"Shifts in depression, anxiety and stress would be expected to influence a person's satisfaction with life at any given point in time," said David Conroy, professor of kinesiology.
Specifically, the team found that by exercising just a little more than usual a person can significantly improve his or her satisfaction with life.
"Based on these findings, we recommend that people exercise a little longer or a little harder than usual as a way to boost satisfaction with life," said Conroy.