We’ve known for a while that exercise boosts mood. That’s
why going for a walk at the end of a stressful day makes us feel better and
But, just how many minutes of physical activity does it take to improve mental wellbeing? Are we talking about an hour or two?
Turns out, scientists have been asking this question and have found the answer!
Some Activity is
Better Than No Activity!
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at
least 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week for good health. However, a
little bit of physical activity is better than no activity.
As little as 10 to 15 minutes of aerobic exercise
can improve your mood, especially if you opt for vigorous activities like
running or cycling. It’s better to commit to a few minutes of exercise everyday
than to skip several days until you’re able to spare 30 minutes for a full
Cardio Vs. Strength
If your primary goal for working out is to improve your mood, which one is better: cardio or strength training? Well, the jury is in and strength training is a better picker-upper than cardio. So if you only have 10 minutes for a mood-boosting workout, you’re better off pumping iron than pounding the pavement.
We’re not saying that cardio doesn’t boost mood. It’s just
that the benefits of cardio, with regards to mood, are less consistent than
strength training. Scientists think this might be because strength training
increases a substance called BDNF, which causes beneficial changes in the brain.
Getting Over the
Motivating ourselves to work out when we’re in a good mood is hard enough! But it seems twice as hard when we’re stressed or in a bad mood. It’s pretty clear that simply knowing the mood boosting effects of exercise isn’t always enough motivation to take that first step.
One way to get over this hump is to schedule your workout for
the time of day when your energy is highest, which is likeliest in the morning,
or at lunch before the afternoon slump. Scheduling your work out for the
evening creates too many opportunities for other priorities and people to infringe
on your time. So try to get it in earlier in the day.
When you’re having second thoughts about working out or going to the gym, remember this, although you might not feel like it, you will rarely, if ever, regret having gotten your workout in.
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