• From an unnutritious diet or poor sleep to low activity levels, the basics may not seem like the biggest priorities right now, nor the biggest concerns regarding your health or wellbeing.
  • There's a lot to be uncertain, stressed, and anxious about right now.
  • Research from Yale and Oxford, however, suggests exercise is actually more important for your mental health than your economic status.
  • It's important to remember, though: healthy levels of physical activity can lower your stress levels, possibly boosting your immunity.
  • While people who exercise regularly tend to feel bad for 35 days a year, nonactive people feel bad on average for 18 days more.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's clear exercise has health benefits both physical and mental.

But what if we could prove it has more of an impact on your mental health than your economic status?

Well, researchers at Yale and Oxford may have done so.

In a study published in The Lancet, scientists collected data about the physical behavior and mental mood of over 1.2 million Americans.

tricep dip home workout
Even if you can't go out to do exercise and can't play teamsports, there are still ways to keep on top of your health at home.
EvgeniyShkolenko/Getty Images

Participants were asked to answer the following question: "How many times have you felt mentally unwell in the past 30 days, for example, due to stress, depression, or emotional problems?"

The participants were also asked about their income and physical activities. They were able to choose from 75 types of physical activity — from mowing the lawn, taking care of children, and doing housework to weight lifting, cycling, and running.

People who stay active tend to be happier

The scientists found that while those who exercised regularly tended to feel bad for 35 days a year, nonactive participants felt bad for 18 days more, on average.

In addition, the researchers found that physically active people feel just as good as those who don't do sports but who earn about $25,000 more a year.

Essentially, you'd have to earn a lot more to get you the same happiness-boosting effect that sport has.

Read more: Warning signs that could mean your child is depressed, according to a child psychiatrist

But it doesn't mean the more sport you do the happier you are.

Too much exercise can be detrimental to your mental health

Exercise is clearly good for you, but how much is too much?

"The relationship between sport duration and mental load is U-shaped," said study author Adam Chekroud of Yale University in an interview with Die Welt.

The study found that physical activity contributes to better mental well-being only when it falls within a certain time frame.

According to the study, three to five training sessions, each lasting between 30 to 60 minutes, are ideal per week.

The mental health of those participants who exercised for longer than three hours a day suffered more than that of those who weren't particularly physically active.

workout fitness jump rope
It may not be quite as easy to partake in group sports right now as before, but there are other sports you can start trying out.
Shutterstock/Jacob Lund

The scientists also noticed that certain sports that involve socializing — such as team sports — can have more of a positive effect on your mental health than others.

While it may not be quite as easy to partake in group sports right now as before, there are still other sports you can start trying out to fill the void.

For example, neither cycling nor aerobics and fitness technically counts as team sports, these activities can also have a considerable positive effect on your mental health.