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Exercise as Mood EnhancerA new study suggests that the warm feeling people get after exercising can last for up to 12 hours. It was previously thought to disappear much sooner.
People feel good after exercising. It's even been described as an afterglow. But no one knew how long this feeling lasted. Researchers at the University of Vermont, Burlington wanted to find out.
They examined 48 healthy men and women, age 18-25. Half of the group did a 20 minute, moderate intensity workout on a stationary bike, the other half did no exercise. Participants filled out mood questionnaires at the start and 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 and 24 hours afterwards.
Those who exercised felt the best. The effect was immediate. But this feeling lasted much longer than expected. Previously thought to last for an hour or so, it lasted up to 12 hours for these subjects.
Everybody has exercised at some point in their life. But people who don't exercise often tend to forget how good they have felt afterwards. This study suggests that even light exercise can be a simple, inexpensive way to deal with a foul mood or even depression. The researchers suggest walking, gardening or dancing as possible activities; they stress that people should pick an activity that they enjoy. They also suggest that even a few minutes a day could pay off. And it doesn't have to be particularly strenuous, just stimulating enough to wake up your system and get the juices flowing.
Current guidelines suggest that people need 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for good physical health. Even if you don't follow this, a smaller amount could be useful in coping with all the mental unpleasantness that life throws at you. Can you remember the last time that you glowed?
The results of the study were presented at the 56th annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine on May 27, 2009 in Seattle.
June 22, 2009
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