The mood-enhancing effects of exercise are well documented, but a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's 56th Annual Meeting in Seattle suggests 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 one-, two-, four-, eight-, 12- and 24-hour intervals following either exercise or rest. Although previous studies have found enhanced mood for up to an hour after exercise, this study found benefits for up to 12 hours following activity, compared to the resting group.

"These positive effects on mood occurred in all types of participants, regardless of age, gender, or fitness level," said Jeremy Sibold, Ed.D., ATC, lead author. "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 percent 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 post-exercise, Sibold says it's important to make physical activity a daily habit. ACSM guidelines support the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, which can be achieved in 30-minute segments five days a week.

Source
American College of Sports Medicine

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