Dive into this new roundup of health and fitness research and you’ll discover; the secret to 12 hours of happiness, a surprising link between fitness and mouthwash, the diet that may reduce depression and fresh insights on exercise and dementia.

What’s the secret to 12 hours of happiness?

12hr happiness

A new University of Vermont study has shown that adding 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise to your morning routine can provide an immediate mood boost – what’s more, the positive effects can last for up to 12 hours. And there’s good news if early morning cardio is not your thing. After aggregating data from 23 published studies, researchers from the University of Michigan established how all manner of exercise is consistently linked to happiness. They found that as little as 10 minutes of physical exercise per week can result in increased levels of happiness. Those who accumulated at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days were 30 percent more likely to report being ‘happy’ than those who didn’t manage 30 minutes of exercise on most days. Learn more about how exercise can make you a happier soul.

Your mouthwash could be messing with your fitness


In recent years we’ve seen plenty of hype linking gut microbiome health and athleticism. Now, new research shows the bacteria in your mouth’s microbiome can also affect how your body responds to exercise. Your mouth is your body’s second largest and most diverse microbiome, and it is here where oral bacteria first begin converting nitrate to nitrite – a molecular process that kicks in when you exercise. This molecular reaction helps keep your blood pressure low during and after exercise, which is key to cardiovascular fitness. ⁠Researchers recently found that consuming antibacterial mouthwash at various points during exercise reduced the blood pressure lowering effects by more than 60 percent in the first hour of recovery. After two hours the benefits were canceled out completely. While researchers used a much stronger antiseptic than commercial mouthwash, their findings highlight the need to reassess our mouthwash use. Most importantly, this research shows that a healthy oral microbiome is key to ensuring bodies effectively respond to exercise.

The diet that’s good for your mental health


Put down the chocolate and crisps! A new study has unveiled another reason to consider the revered Mediterranean diet. Greek researchers have shown that consuming a diet rich in vegetables and lower in poultry and alcohol – as per traditional Mediterranean fare – is associated with a decreased likelihood of developing symptoms of depression or a diagnosis of depression later in life. According to the study, there are several risk factors that are strongly associated with depression in older adults, and those who follow the plant-rich way of eating seem to experience less of these. It is worth noting that this is an observational study that doesn’t prove a cause and effect. The researchers explain that following the Mediterranean diet may lead to better mental health, but equally poor mental health impacts a person's ability to follow a nutritious healthy diet. Find out more about your eating habits can affect mental health.

It’s never too late to future-proof against forgetfulness

The past decade has produced a wealth of studies highlighting how those who are fit and active tend to have better cognitive function. But, until now, no study has addressed how fluctuating fitness levels over time may influence forgetfulness. Thanks to a new Norwegian study we now have further evidence that being physically fit can sharpen the memory and lower risk of dementia – and building fitness later in life may be exponentially beneficial. Researchers found that, of the 30,000 study participants, those who maintained a consistent level of fitness over a 30-year period were almost 50 percent less likely to develop dementia than the least-fit men and women. But most interestingly, those who started off with low fitness but lifted their fitness level later in life enjoyed a surprisingly substantial reduction in dementia risk. Learn more about using fitness to future-proof your cognitive function.