The Everyday Activities That Boost Mental Health

The activities can ward off mental health problems.

The activities can ward off mental health problems.

Simple, everyday activities like walking and climbing the stairs help to ward off mental health problems, research concludes.

People who are vulnerable to psychiatric problems seem to benefit even more from little exercises like these.

Feeling alert and full of energy from brief exercise provides a sizeable boost to mental health, the researchers found.

The study’s authors write:

“Climbing stairs every day may help us feel awake and full of energy.

This enhances well-being,”

Simple exercises that can be done indoors and during the pandemic are particularly important, said Professor Heike Tost, study co-author:

“Currently, we are experiencing strong restrictions of public life and social contacts, which may adversely affect our well-being.

To feel better, it may help to more often climb stairs.”

The conclusions come from a study of 67 people whose everyday activities were tracked along with their moment-to-moment emotional states.

The results showed that people felt more alert and bursting with energy after simple daily activities, like climbing the stairs or even walking around.

Brain scans were also carried out on a separate group of 83 people to examine the processes involved.

These showed that an area of the brain called the subgenual cingulate cortex is critical to how everyday activities affect people’s emotional state.

Professor Tost said:

“Persons with a smaller volume of gray brain matter in this region and a higher risk of psychiatric disorders felt less full of energy when they were physically inactive.

After everyday activity, however, these persons felt even more filled with energy than persons with a larger brain volume.”

Professor Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, study co-author, concluded:

“The results suggest that physical activity in everyday life is beneficial to well-being, in particular in persons susceptible to psychiatric disorders.”

Dr Urs Braun, study co-author, said:

“It remains to be studied whether everyday activities may change the well-being and the brain volume and how these results may help prevent and treat psychiatric disorders.”

The study was published in the journal Science Advances (Reichert et al., 2020).


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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.