Fruit, vegetables and exercise make you happier

Summary: A new study reports that eating fruits and vegetables and exercising makes people happier, not the other way around. Increased happiness was associated with eating more fruits and vegetables in women, and exercising more in men.

source: University of Kent

New research led by the University of Kent and the University of Reading has found that consuming fruits and vegetables and exercising can increase levels of happiness.

While the link between lifestyle and well-being has previously been documented and is often used in public health campaigns to encourage healthy diet and exercise, new findings published by Happiness Studies Journal Show that there is also a positive lifestyle cause to life satisfaction.

This research is the first of its kind to reveal a causal relationship between happiness and fruit and vegetable consumption and exercise, rather than a generalization of the relationship.

The researchers, Dr Adelina Gschwandtner (Kent School of Economics), Dr Sarah Jewell and Professor Uma Kamphamati (both from the University of Reading School of Economics), used an effective covariate method to filter out any influence from happiness to lifestyle.

It shows that eating fruits and vegetables and exercising is what makes people happy, not the other way around.

This shows a woman eating an apple
The research also showed that men exercise more, and women eat more fruits and vegetables. The image is in the public domain

The results show that individuals’ ability to delay gratification and apply self-control plays a major role in influencing lifestyle decisions, which in turn has a positive impact on well-being. The research also showed that men exercise more, and women eat more fruits and vegetables.

Knowing that lifestyle diseases are the leading cause of ill health and mortality worldwide, and because the UK has one of the highest rates of obesity in Europe, these findings could have significant implications for public health policy.

Dr. Gschwandtner said, “Behavioural journals that assist oneself in planning in furtherance of long-term goals are likely to be particularly useful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If a better lifestyle not only makes us healthier, but also makes us happier, this is a situation clear to all.”

Professor Kamphamati said: “There has been a greater shift in recent years in healthy lifestyle choices. Proving that eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising can increase happiness as well as provide health benefits is a major development. This may also be useful for policy campaigns around the environment and sustainability.”

About this diet, exercise and happiness research news

author: Olivia Miller
source: Kent University
Contact: Olivia Miller – University of Kent
picture: The image is in the public domain

original search: open access.
Lifestyle and life satisfaction: the role of delayed gratificationWritten by Adelina Gschwandtner et al. Happiness Studies Journal


Summary

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Lifestyle and life satisfaction: the role of delayed gratification

This paper examines the impact of two lifestyle measures – fruit and vegetable consumption and exercise – on an individual’s well-being.

Since lifestyle is likely to be endogenous, we correct this by using two dimensions of delayed gratification as tools.

The ability to delay gratification enables individuals to place greater importance on the investment component of lifestyle decisions rather than just the emotional component.

Our analysis is based on UK Understanding Society data, which covers 40,000 UK households over time.

We find these two delayed gratification tools to be positive and meaningful in influencing lifestyle. In the second phase, we found that fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity increased life satisfaction, although the effects differed between men and women.

These results are robust across quartiles for income, region, gender, education, and age groups.

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