Even a tiny bit of exercise can impact your well-being

It likely won't come as a surprise that physical well-being and health are associated with improved mental and emotional health as well. But a new study showed that not only does regular exercise lead to a better mood, simply adding a bit more movement to your day — doing things like opting for the stairs over an elevator — can also help make you happier. 

We already knew that short workouts beat no workouts: a minute a day of running improved bone health in women (via Science Daily), and even five minutes of working out can greatly improve health outcomes (via Science Daily). And now, we know it doesn't take much to boost our mindset in addition to our physical health.

"Climbing stairs every day may help us feel awake and full of energy. This enhances well-being," doctors Markus Reichert and Urs Braun, who conducted the study, explained. This is great news for anyone who struggles with a midday slump at work or has a hard time getting motivated in the morning. Rather than needing to do a full hour of high-intensity interval training, just a small burst of activity can change your mood and turn your day around.

Why does moving matter more now?

The researchers behind this new study noted that this will be particularly helpful this winter as COVID-19 restrictions take a toll on mental health while also making exercise tricky. There aren't many group fitness classes available, many gyms are still closed or limited on space, and between working from home and remote schooling, many people simply don't have the time to stick to a workout routine.

So, instead of bemoaning your lack of spin classes or hour-long runs in the park, think about ways to add simple movement back to your day. From running up flights of stairs to doing a set of pushups, jumping jacks, squats, burpees, or marching in place for 30 to 60 seconds, simply adding these small moments of movement could be what you need to start feeling more motivated and energized. Braun noted that eventually, he hopes to see the findings of the study used in a phone-based app that will remind users to get up and move throughout the day, but for now, you can simply set a reminder on your phone to ping every couple of hours to tell you to move.