What Do People Who Get More Sleep, Feel More Creative, and Have Closer Relationships All Have in Common?
By Katherine Wernet
As part of the MINDBODY Wellness Index, we asked almost 17,000 Americans a wide range of questions about their overall health. We inquired if they have close relationships with their friends and family, if they feel stimulated at work, how much sleep they get, and how comfortable they are expressing their emotions, among other questions. We wanted to get a sense of how healthy they are overall—considering all seven dimensions of wellness. We found that people who are most likely to answer positively regarding their health, from the mental to the physical, have something in common: they exercise more.
Physical activity is key
We found that the more engaged with fitness Americans are, the more likely they are to report healthy attitudes and behaviors across ALL dimensions of wellness. Exercise, of course, improves physical fitness, but in our data we saw regular exercise was correlated with benefits across every single dimension of wellness.
The data became even more fascinating when we looked at those who exercise five or more times a week compared to those who exercise one to four times per week and than those who pursue less than one workout a week. In every category, those who exercised five times or more were more likely to say they were healthier in a given dimension, whereas those who exercise less than once per week are consistently the least likely to respond positively.
People who exercise five or more times a week are more likely to:
- Have close relationships with friends and family
- Be non-smokers
- Find time for play and having fun
- Drink the recommended amount of water
- Enjoy work or day-to-day activities
- Feel comfortable expressing their feelings
- Engage in creative and mentally-stimulating activities
- Schedule regular medical check-ups
- Get adequate sleep
- Feel spiritually fulfilled
- Attempt to minimize exposure to environmental toxins
- Eat their fruits and vegetables
- Use alternative/integrative medicine
The call for fitness
A quarter of Americans say fitness is a low priority in their lives right now. We saw that 44% of Americans aren't exercising enough to meet the US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines. This is a group that is not getting the exercise they need.
It's been well established that physical activity and regular exercise have many health benefits. Routine workouts can improve heart health, reduce the risk of heart disease, regulate cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and improve blood sugar regulation. Physical activities reduce the risk of osteoporosis and diabetes. Regular exercise also strengthens muscles, reduces inflammation, and helps one maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity. It seems that the benefits may extend far beyond physical wellness.
While one cannot claim that exercise itself boosts health across all dimensions of wellness, it's clear that those who take care to make exercise a part of their routine are more likely to be fulfilled in their emotional, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, social, and occupational wellness. In effect, the more engaged in fitness a person is, the more engaged they are in many other aspects of life.
Ready to hit the gym yet?