Exercise, Life Purpose and Happiness
Help clients solve the puzzle of why to keeping exercising.
Exercise, life purpose and happiness are a trio of ideas that enhance each other in meaningful ways. While your clients might not agree about the happiness part when they’re in the middle of a set of burpees, linking all the beyond-the-biceps benefits together can provide motivation and greater success.
Consider, for example, an April 2021 Harvard study that shows a bi-directional relationship between a greater sense of purpose in life and being physically active. Researchers studied more than 14,000 middle-aged and older American adults. They found that, “People with a greater sense of purpose in life may be more likely to engage in physical activity. At the same time, physical activity can contribute to a sense of purpose in life.” This increase in sense of purpose in life was associated with higher physical activity in follow-ups 4 and 9 years later.
Exercise and life purpose? Check!
Life Purpose and Happiness
So where does happiness fit in?
“Purpose is not a magic genie that changes misery into bliss with a snap of the fingers,” they say. “Quite the opposite. Discovering your purpose will require you to choose courage over comfort and commitment over compromise. But the result of leading a purpose-lit life is fulfillment . . . The fulfillment you will derive from a purpose-lit life cannot be gifted to you or taken away; it is uniquely yours, and it will foster a deep sense of resilience and personal understanding, resulting in a vibrant, peaceful sense of well-being.”
Jordan and Jordan offer four steps for discovering your purpose. And although such an exercise is decidedly different from an indoor cycling class or weight sequence, it can move your clients (and you) forward and strengthen your commitment to wellness.
More Health Benefits
Purposeful living may have health benefits, as well. In a study of nearly 7,000 American participants over age 50, researchers found that having a strong sense of purpose was linked with a lower rate of death from all causes. The study, reported in JAMA Network Open , is another piece of the exercise, life purpose and happiness puzzle.
According to Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, MA, JD, growing research shows a relationship between psychological well-being and multiple positive health outcomes. In a paper for The Journal on Active Aging, Archer-Eichenberger cites those outcomes as including “a stronger immune system, fewer chronic-pain conditions, less likelihood of diabetes, lower risk of fatal accident, reduced heart-disease risk and longer life.”
Time is on Your Side
Life purpose and its connection to physical activity is powerful stuff, so it’s good to remind clients that even a short bout of exercise can lead to a happier day. And it doesn’t take a lot of time to start enjoying the many emotional benefits that exercise yields.
Research suggests, for instance, that a quick 10-minute walk around the block can release endorphins into the bloodstream, causing beneficial changes to your mood. Low- to moderate-intensity movements that are rhythmic and repetitive promote self-reflection, creative thinking and a better mood overall.
See Also: Don’t Let Bad Moods Sabotage You
Life Purpose, Exercise and Happiness: Putting it all Together
Exercise can enhance purpose. Purpose enhances exercise. Exercise and purpose enhance happiness. And health. And so on! Acknowledging and understanding these connections may be just what your clients need—especially when they are struggling to find the motivation to continue.
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