The list of the ways that exercise benefits you is, honestly, endless. There are the obvious ways, like physical. There are the improvements it offers to mental health. Certain kinds of exercise can also help you release trauma. It can even help in certain periods of your life, with studies finding that it may help reduce gestational diabetes in pregnant women.
And, as the introduction to this article implies, another benefit has been found. Coming out of Harvard University, the latest research suggests that working out can help improve your quality of life — which we know — by making you feel more purpose (that’s the part we didn’t know).
In partnership with the University of Warwick, and after surveying 14,000 people for the study, they found that exercise is linked to a stronger sense of purpose — particularly, that it was linked to a better ability to both develop and maintain that sense of purpose over time. So it’s not just a one-hit-wonder.
In addition to this, they also found that people who had a sense of purpose in life in the first place were more likely to exercise. Talking to Insider, the lead author of the study, Ayse Yemiscigil, said the result of the study “made so much sense” particularly as “exercise routines organise our lives, giving us plans to look forward to and social communities to be a part of”.
In addition to this, Yemiscigil elaborated that another important factor is “the feeling that we get from having done something meaningful and worthwhile with our precious and scarce resource, time.”
As for what’s going to be done moving forward? Well, yes, encouraging people to exercise may be one strategy health professionals can suggest to help improve wellbeing and a person’s sense of purpose. But combining this strategy, along with other sense of purpose boosters — like social support — could make people more likely to exercise consistently. What researchers concluded? That this combination could create an “upward spiral”, that could truly help people improve their lives.