— to see the Jump for Joy video, please click here.
It’s no secret that exercise, even in small doses, can improve your mood. Researchers even have a name for it: the feel-better effect.
Researchers have identified several movements that are recognizable in many cultures as inspired by joy: reaching your arms up; swaying from side to side, like concertgoers losing themselves in the music; other rhythmic movements, such as bouncing to a beat; or taking up more space, like dancers spinning, arms outstretched. These physical actions don’t just express a feeling of joy — research shows they can also elicit it.
When people in several small studies were instructed to perform these kinds of movements, they reported more positive emotions. Another small study suggested the effects of so-called joy moves are stronger when you can see someone else doing the movements, too — in part because happiness is contagious.
The eight and a half–minute Joy Workout lets you test these effects. It leads you through six joy moves: reach, sway, bounce, shake, jump for joy, and “celebrate” that looks like tossing confetti in the air. The video shows a standing workout, but you can also try it seated.