By now most of us have heard the litany of reasons to exercise: it boosts our immune system, improves sleep, reduces stress, helps posture, lowers heart rate, increases focus—I could go on and on. But a study out earlier this year adds some nice nuance to the overwhelming support for corporeal commotion. It found that even a modicum of activity makes people happier. And, people are happier during those moving moments than when they are sedentary. Most studies to date have focused on the link between exercise and mood. This one honed in on non-exercise—the stuff we do in daily living like walking, simple chores, and even standing.
The study was published earlier this year in PLOS ONE—a peer-reviewed open-access scientific journal.
What may have larger implications for health and wellness than the findings was the app they created to track them. Not only did this app allow people to self-report activity and happiness through notifications sent twice daily on the phone, it also verified their activity using a motion tracker already built into most smartphones. Pretty cool stuff. And because enrollment and tracking were so simple—no expensive wearable required—the study N was fairly large: over 10,000 users who signed up and downloaded the app from Google Play.
The ease with which this large-scale study was conducted is a great demo of how technology is creating opportunities for healthcare marketers. This simple smartphone tracking could be used as a proof point, as one example, for any treatment that aims to enhance mobility—have people download the app and track activity before and after treatment and compare and publish the results. It also could be used as an incentive to encourage activity or even a complement to prescription treatment.
Still, the study results should be heartening for people with health conditions that are severe enough to prohibit full-blown exercise. It’s nice to know that for these folks, even a little get-up-and-go can go a long way when it comes to happiness.