How Exercise May Help Us Flourish - The New York Times
May 12, 2021 1 min, 27 secs

Our exercise habits may influence our sense of purpose in life and our sense of purpose may affect how much we exercise, according to an interesting new study of the reciprocal effects of feeling your life has meaning and being often in motion.

Fewer have delved into positive emotions and their links with physical activity, and fewer still have looked at the role of a strong sense of purpose and how it might influence whether we move, and the other way around.

“A sense of purpose is the feeling that you get from having goals and plans that give direction and meaning to life,” she says.

In that case, she thought, physical activity plausibly could contribute to a sense of purpose and, likewise, a sense of purpose might influence how likely we are to exercise.

It asks them at the start about their physical health, background, daily activities and mental health, including if they agree with statements like, “I have a sense of direction and purpose in life,” or “My daily activities often seem trivial and unimportant.” The study’s researchers then checked back after a few years to repeat the queries.

People who started off with active lives generally showed an increasing sense of purpose over the years, and those whose sense of purpose was sturdier in the beginning were the most physically active years later.

Yemiscigil says, “since many older people report a decreasing sense of purpose in their lives, and they also typically have low rates of engagement in physical activity.”.

The findings are also associational, meaning they show links between having a sense of purpose at one point in your life and being active later, or vice versa, so do not prove one causes the other


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