Fitness professionals and enthusiasts are well aware of the positive effects that exercise can have on mood. A report from the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology (2011; 33 [6], 884–902) takes this common knowledge one step further, suggesting that exercise is associated with feelings of excitement and enthusiasm.

For the study, 190 university students maintained daily journals that provided details on their physical activity, sleep, stress and more. Physical activity bouts were recorded only if they lasted 15 minutes or longer. The researchers then separated the students into four groups based on the journal entries: pleasant-activated feelings expressed by excitement and enthusiasm, pleasant-deactivated feelings expressed by satisfaction and relaxation, unpleasant–activated feelings expressed by anxiety and anger, and unpleasant-deactivated feelings expressed by depression and sadness.

According to the authors, “Physical activity was not associated with pleasant-deactivated, unpleasant–activated or unpleasant–deactivated feelings. People who were more physically active overall had higher pleasant–activated feelings than people who were less physically active. People reported higher levels of pleasant-activated feelings on days when they were more physically active than was typical for them.”