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Author: CindyCollins Subject: Exercise and Mood

Posts: 3
Registered: 07-02-2014

posted on 07-04-2014 at 21:36 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
Exercise and Mood

When thinking of the benefits of exercise most people think of the physical improvements that often accompany an exercise program or improved exercise habits. The most familiar are things like reduced body fat, improved endurance, increased strength, improved cardiac (heart) health, improved flexibility and improved disease states for conditions like diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure). What some exercisers have noticed is that regular exercise helps with their mental health as well. Researchers have been diligently attempting to study under what exercise conditions people can get a mental benefit from exercise [Source: Berger, Kennedy]. The initial assumption was that there must be a connection to the body’s natural opiates or endorphins (mood enhancers). The trouble with this hypothesis was that we know that endorphins are released after relatively high intensity exercise. But researchers were seeing improved mood in exercisers when they performed lower intensity exercise and at exercise intensities that were self-determined [Source: Berger, Kraemer, Nebatani]. The explanation is not yet clear, but the mood improving results are consistent.

The next question that was asked was whether males or females were more likely to get effects. The answers were conclusive again. Both males and females get similar benefits in mood after even moderate exercise [Source: Berger, Kennedy, Kraemer, Nebatani]. Likewise, individual differences like in those having a better general person outlook versus those with a pessimistic attitude and those with depression or anxiety did not seem to matter. Exercise improved their mood also [Source: Milton, Smits, Strohle]. In fact, mood and feelings of mental well-being were even improved in people who were experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome [Source: Lloyd]. This is extremely interesting since one might assume that exercising would just make chronic fatigue worse.

Researchers have even looked at what kind of exercise is needed to get the mental results. They studied whether it required aerobic exercise like running or swimming, or whether any exercise would be of benefit [Source: Berger, Kennedy, Kraemer]. The results showed that exercise helped improve mood after nearly any type of exercise including yoga, running, step aerobics and swimming. With such a wide range we can reasonably conclude that the mode of exercise is not the determining factor for whether exercise will have a positive effect on mood.

Lastly, researchers looked at what the minimum amount of time that would be needed for exercise performance to get the desired benefits [Source: Nebatani]. What was determined was that exercisers experienced positive mood changes after only 10 minutes of running at a self-selected pace.

So what does this all mean? Essentially it all boils down to this, pick an exercise that you enjoy (or several) and do it for at least 10 minutes to get mood improving benefits. To use this to your benefit, try doing 10 minutes of exercise when you feel especially anxious, stressed or depressed. No matter what you do, who you are or what kind of personality you have, exercise can help you have a better attitude
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