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Study: A healthy lifestyle can lead to a happier outlook

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Are healthy people actually happier people?

According to one recent study, people who maintain a healthy lifestyle have more happiness and are more optimistic.

The study looked at data from a group of 121,700 U.S. women between the ages of 30-55.

Researchers found women who reported having higher happiness and optimism levels were more likely to sustain healthy lifestyle habits.

They also found those with healthy habits were more likely to be happier and more optimistic years later.

According to Dr. Scott Bea, of Cleveland Clinic, it's easier to keep our brains worry-free when our bodies are in motion.

"We know that when we're in motion, our brains are kind of quiet," he said. "Where do we go to upset ourselves? Usually to our own thoughts. There's even great research that says a body in motion will be a little quieter in the brain and when we're sitting still, we're really engaged with our thoughts. 

Bea said our physical health and mental health are intertwined. When we move, we release endorphins, dopamine, and ‘good mood' chemicals.

When we stop moving, our bodies and our brains are impacted in a negative way. 

In worst-case scenarios, he said people can develop ‘learned helplessness' -- which is the mindset that, ‘No matter what I do, nothing changes.'

Bea said there are things we can do to boost our mood -- but it takes a willingness to do challenging things and accept some discomfort. 

But when we do, there is a big payoff for our brains.

"I think a real ordinary thing for humans is to wait until we feel good to start to do things -- well that's easy," said Bea. "If we're feeling badly, moving our body and getting ourselves behaving in a different way is critical to change the feeling state. It's one of the hardest things to do."

Bea said creating new habits takes a while -- but eventually your brain won't resist being active. He believes it helps if you have someone who can help motivate you through the journey.

Complete results of the study can be found in Preventive Medicine.