Exercise Boosts Mood Up to 12 Hours

Jun 24, 2009

Do your clients need some good news in the midst of this tough economy? Let them know that exercise can improve their mood for up to 12 hours at a stretch.

The mood-enhancing effects of exercise are well documented, but a study presented in May at the 56th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), in Seattle, suggests that the benefits may last much longer than previously thought.

The study enrolled healthy men and women to complete a survey about their mood states at 1-, 2-, 4-, 8-, 12- and 24-hour intervals following either exercise or rest. While previous studies have noted improvements in mood for up to an hour after exercise, this study found that benefits lasted as long as 12 hours following activity, compared with rest.

“These positive effects on mood occurred in all types of participants, regardless of age, gender or fitness level,” said lead author Jeremy Sibold, EdD, ATC. “In some cases, exercise may be able to complement other standard therapies as a cost-effective alternative in the treatment of mental health issues.”

Test subjects performed exercise at 60% of aerobic capacity, indicating that moderate-intensity exercise—like walking or light cycling—is enough to boost mood.

Because the mood-enhancing effects of exercise fade after more than 12 hours, it’s important to make physical activity a daily habit, says Sibold. ACSM guidelines support the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, which can be achieved in 30-minute segments over 5 days.

In other research, investigators have found that even major depression responds to consistent exercise.

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