Although there is general agreement in the literature that mood is enhanced following aerobic exercise, studies have limited post exercise mood assessment to only a short period, with a majority evaluating mood for only 40-60 minutes following the exercise bout. Recommendations have been made for longer post exercise assessment periods as a way to determine optimal exercise frequency prescription for mood improvement.
PURPOSE: To determine the impact of aerobic exercise on mood at 1,2,4,8, 12, and 24 hours after exercise.
METHODS: Forty eight healthy adult men (n=13) and women (n=35) aged 18-25 (M=20.2 yr; SD=3.4) were randomly assigned to either control or exercise groups. Subjects completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS) before and after exercise at 60% of aerobic capacity on a cycle ergometer, or quiet rest. Additionally, all subjects completed the POMS at one, two, four, eight, twelve, and twenty four hours following either the exercise or control session. Repeated measures analysis of covariance was performed to determine the duration of mood change with VO2 Max entered as a covariate.
RESULTS: The exercise group showed significantly lower total mood disturbance acutely (F=15.408, p=.000, d=1.12), as well as at four (F=6.939, p=.011, d=0.79), eight (F=4.972, p=.031, d=0.658), and twelve hours (F=4.481, p=.040, d=0.613) following exercise. There were no observed differences due to gender or fitness level.
CONCLUSIONS: Based on this research, it is prudent to conclude that aerobic exercise improves mood acutely, and these improvements can be sustained for up to twelve hours following exercise. These results improve the ability of the practitioners in the field to prescribe exercise as a treatment modality for mood enhancement in healthy populations.