A new study published in The Journal of Happiness Studies has investigated the impact of fruit, vegetables and exercise on individual well-being. The experts found that fruit and vegetable consumption, along with physical activity, increase general life satisfaction.
While correlations between healthy lifestyles and well-being have previously been documented and used in public health campaigns advocating the value of healthier diets and exercise, this new study shows that there is also a positive causation between a healthy lifestyle and general wellbeing.
“There has been a bigger shift in recent years for healthier lifestyle choices. To establish that eating more fruit and vegetables and exercising can increase happiness as well as offer health benefits is a major development,” said study co-author Uma Kambhampati from the University of Reading. “This may also prove useful for policy campaigns around environment and sustainability.”
The researchers argued that the capacity of individuals to delay gratification and apply self-control plays a fundamental role in influencing lifestyle decisions. This ability enables individuals to give greater weight to the investment component of their lifestyle, which might not always be pleasant, rather than merely the affective component, where desires are gratified immediately.
For example, many people engage in strenuous physical exercise as a long-term goal of increasing their wellbeing, instead of munching tasty fast foods on their couches to achieve instant gratification.
“Behavioral nudges that help the planning self to reinforce long-term objectives are likely to be especially helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” explained lead study author Dr. Adelina Gschwandtner, a senior lecturer at the University of Kent’s School of Economics. “If a better lifestyle not only makes us healthier but also happier, then it is a clear win-win situation.”
Humans’ unique ability to invest in long-term goals of maintaining good health and well-being by consuming fruits and vegetables and engaging in sports activities is now proven to be also a source of mental well-being and thus overall life satisfaction.
Although men are generally shown to be more willing to exercise and women more prone towards healthy eating, both genders appear to be particularly good long-term planners, able to delay instant gratification in order to achieve later and more prolonged states of well-being and life satisfaction.