Exercise makes us happy and is important to maintain mental health. According to a recent small German study, even non-exercise activities, like climbing stairs, walking or any other everyday physical activity, significantly enhance alertness and give more energy, especially in people with mood disorders, like depression. Alertness and energy were seen in this study as important contributors to well-being and mental health.

The study found out that a particular part of the brain is responsible for the interaction between everyday non-exercise activity and well-being. Researchers saw that persons with a smaller volume of gray matter in this part of a brain and a higher risk of mood disorders felt less full of energy when they were physically inactive. After everyday activity, however, these persons felt more filled with energy than “normal” persons with a larger brain volume.

Researchers suggest that increasing non-exercise activities by f.e. using the stairs instead of the elevator and riding a bike instead of a car may be easier to implement in everyday life than structured exercise sessions to feel better and more energized. However, more studies with a larger group of participants are needed to confirm the findings of this study.

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Tatsiana Haponava, PhD

a certified nutrition coach, educator and researcher with a PhD degree

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