We all know how much mood can affect our experiences. When you’re in a bad mood, it feels like nothing can go right. When you’re in a terrific mood, it feels like nothing can hold you down.
There’s incredible power in being able to improve your mood instantly and throughout the day. And you’ll be happy to know that achieving this power is as easy as moving your own two feet.
According to a recent study in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Health Psychology, improving your level of physical activity – even just a little – can immediately improve your overall life satisfaction and mood.
“We found that physical activity has acute, same-day, antidepressive benefits,” says David E. Conroy, Pennsylvania State University kinesiology professor and study coauthor.
Conroy’s team asked 128 Penn State students to wear activity monitors for two weeks. The students were not instructed to add workouts or increase their physical activity. At the end of each day, the participants were surveyed on their feelings of life satisfaction.
Researchers found that the levels of physical activity and life satisfaction varied from day to day. When participants were more active, they reported a greater sense of wellbeing that same evening.
The mood-changing effects of exercise are well established. Previous research has shown that working out releases feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. Exercise may also boost self-confidence while reducing cortisol and anxiety.
Benefits have long been tied to traditional forms of aerobic exercise performed with vigor for at least 30 minutes a day. However, physical activity doesn’t have to be so “prescriptive” to offer rewards.
The key to stimulating these hormones is to engage in an activity longer in duration or frequency than normal. For example, this could mean walking to the grocery store instead of driving there, or exploring recreational activities that are more active in nature, like dancing or playing sports.
In other words, just get out into the world and move a little more! Your waistline – and your mood – will thank you.