Exercise can indeed boost people’s moods, but they may have to start off down in the dumps to feel the effects.
Researchers found that an hour of aerobics reduced tension, anger and fatigue among their study participants, with the benefit being significantly greater among those who felt depressed before the exercise bout.
A number of studies have shown that exercise can lift a person’s spirits, and there is even evidence that physical activity can aid in treating clinical depression. The current study focused on “depressed mood,” rather than clinical depression.
Research demonstrates that different types and intensities of exercise have varying effects on individuals’ moods. The researchers studied 80 young men and women who volunteered to take mood tests just before and after an hour-long aerobics class.
The investigators determined that 52 volunteers were in depressed moods before the exercise, while 28 were not.
After exercise, the depressed-mood group was significantly more likely to report a reduction in anger, fatigue and tension, as well as increased vigor.
At least in the context of an aerobics class, merely getting through the activity may give a lift to a person who is feeling down.
Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness December 2001;41:539-545
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