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How Long Do You Need to Exercise to Experience a Boost in Mood?

woman runningThe benefits of exercise are almost endless. After all, it can improve physical health, help you lose weight, spice up your sex life and improve the way you look. What many people don’t know is exercising can also benefit your mental health. 4588

Two of the main reasons is an increase of blood supply to the brain and the hormones released from exercising. It stands to fact that if exercising increases our breathing rate and makes our heart pump faster, more well oxygenated blood will course through our whole body faster. More oxygen to the brain gives us more focus, clearer thinking, creates neural growth, reduces stress, improves memory and lessens the effect of depression and anxiety. Studies have found exercise is as good as, or in some cases better, than anti-depressant/anxiety medications, but without all of the undesirable side effects. 4590

Exercising does one other thing in the brain, it releases a couple of hormones that improve our mood and sense of well-being – dopamine and endorphins. In the running world, this positive effect on mood is known as a runner’s high. But you don’t need to run to experience it; almost any form of exercise will produce its effect. 4591

The question is how much exercise is needed to get mood improvement? Not as much as you would think. All you really need to reap the full range of benefits from exercising are 30 minutes per day, five days per week. 4592

And if you can’t devote that much time in one chunk, break it down into time blocks that fit your schedule. Studies have proven three 10-minute sessions per day are as good as, if not better, than one 30-minute chunk. The point is doing what you can when you can, as even some exercise is better than nothing at all.

One other aspect of exercising that effects the amount of benefits reaped is intensity or how hard you work out. In this case more is not better. Moderate exercising seems to produce the most effect. Moderate is defined as:

  • Breathing harder than normal, but still being able to carry on a conversation with a walking partner for example.
  • Your body feeling warmer than normal, but not overheated or excessively sweaty.

Getting a boost in mood is not as hard as you probably thought. Exercising at a moderate intensity 30-minutes per day, five days per week is all that is needed. And a boost in mode is only one of many positive effects you’ll get from exercising.


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