There's been a lot of research done on how eating fruits and veggies and getting regular exercise help increase feelings of happiness and wellbeing. A new study shows that those lifestyle choices actually cause happiness. And the researchers say they've figured out how it happens.

Researchers from the University of Kent and the University of Reading in the UK filtered out all ways that being happy could influence lifestyle. They concluded that happy people make healthy choices first and become happier second. Not the other way around.

How does the fruit/veg/exercise combo cause happiness? It's a little confusing, but I think it makes sense. The researchers found that people who are able to delay gratification make healthier lifestyle choices and are therefore happier. They're into a future return on investment. For example, someone who makes the choice to eat fruits and veggies plus they exercise may believe that their actions will improve their own health and the environment's health now and into the future -- a very optimistic outlook.

The researchers also found out two other things from the data they analyzed, which was collected from 40,000-plus households for the UK Understanding Society Data database. They found that men tend to exercise more and women tend to eat more fruits and veggies.

They say that with obesity being a major cause of disease worldwide, their findings could help shape public policy. And that since the fruit/veg/exercise combo improves physical and mental health, it is a win-win thing to do.

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The study is published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

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