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Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood and Well-Being in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2005 - Volume 37 - Issue 12 - pp 2032-2037
Clinical Sciences: Clinically Relevant

Purpose: This study was designed to determine if a single bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise would improve mood and well-being in 40 (15 male, 25 female) individuals who were receiving treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD).

Methods: All participants were randomly assigned to exercise at 60–70% of age-predicted maximal heart rate for 30 min or to a 30-min period of quiet rest. Participants completed both the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and Subjective Exercise Experiences Scale (SEES) as indicators of mood 5 min before, and 5, 30, and 60 min following their experimental condition.

Results: Both groups reported similar reductions in measures of psychological distress, depression, confusion, fatigue, tension, and anger. Only the exercise group, however, reported a significant increase in positive well-being and vigor scores.

Conclusion: Although 30 min of either moderate-intensity treadmill exercise or quiet rest is sufficient to improve the mood and well-being of patients with MDD, exercise appears to have a greater effect on the positively valenced states measured.

1The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, Exercise Psychology Laboratory, Austin, TX; and 2Future Search Trials, Inc., Austin, TX

Address for correspondence: John B. Bartholomew, The University of Texas at Austin Department of Kinesiology and Health Education Austin, TX 78712; E-mail:

Submitted for publication August 2004.

Accepted for publication July 2005.

©2005The American College of Sports Medicine