I'm one of those people who likes to challenge my body with a tough workout. I'm not one to go until I get sick, but I do like that feeling of accomplishment when I finish a workout I knew would be strenuous. Even though it might be hard to get through and it takes a few minutes to recover, afterward I feel good about what I've done. My husband is always encouraging me to get out and exercise if I've had a rough day because he knows it will improve my mood. New research shows I'm not the only one who gets a mental boost from a tough workout.
The preliminary study, presented at the annual meeting of the British Psychological Society, assessed the moods of 11 people before, during, immediately after and 20 minutes after moderate and high-intensity exercise. "The participants' moods were more negative during and immediately after high-intensity exercise, compared to when they did the less strenuous exercise or no exercise. However, their mood 20 minutes after doing the vigorous workout was much better compared to before the workout." This same mood boost did not occur after moderate or no exercise.
When I'm in the middle of a hard workout, I wouldn’t say that I love it. Most people love the feeling of accomplishment exercise provides, not necessarily the exercise itself. I think that's what becomes the most addicting- the feeling you get when you cross the finish line of your first 5k, or the end of a long bike ride that you weren't sure you could complete. Don't get me wrong: I think it's important to find activities you enjoy because you are more likely to stick with them. And it's also important to remember that everyone's definition of a "hard" workout is going to be different. For someone who is new to exercise, 10 minutes of walking might be vigorous activity. For someone who's been active for many years, it might take a 45-minute Spinning class for them to feel like they worked hard. As long as you're challenging yourself based on your current fitness level, that's what is most important.
Learn more about how to Bust Your Bad Mood with Exercise and how to Improve Your Mood Without Food.
What do you think? Do you notice more of a mood boost from a hard workout versus an easier one? Do you try to incorporate both types of workouts into your routine?
More From SparkPeople