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Exercise: The 12-Hour Antidepressant

By , SparkPeople Blogger
We've all heard that exercise can help boost your mood, but a new study shows that the effects might last longer than previously thought. A study from the American College of Sports Medicine found that exercise could improve your mood for up to 12 hours (instead of just the hour or so that's been documented by earlier research).

Participants were asked to complete a survey about their mood states at one-, two-, four-, eight-, 12- and 24-hour intervals following either exercise or rest. They exercised at 60% of their aerobic capacity, which would be a light walk or leisurely bike ride for most people. So the good news is that they were able to see the benefits without having to do a high intensity workout, and the positive results occurred in both men and women of all ages and fitness levels.

I'm not sure how long my good mood lasts, but I know I usually feel great after a run. Even if the run didn't go as well as I would have liked, I still feel more positive and refreshed because I did it. My husband always finds room in our busy schedule to watch the kids so that I get time for my workout. He jokes that it not only makes me happy, but everyone around me also benefits because I'm much easier to live with.

I've often heard that most people don't love to exercise, but they're addicted to the feelings they have when it's done. There are a lot of days when I'm one of those people. I have to tell myself to just keep running and not quit, because I'll feel so good (both physically and mentally) when I finish.

What do you think? Do you notice a difference in your mood after a workout? How long do those feelings usually last for you?

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When I first started walking, I didn’t know this, so wasn’t aware of why I got more done in the morning. Figured it out, though! Report
Exercise other than walking I find tedious or uncomfortable most of the time, but I do find that a slightly more intense workout boosts my mood. Report
CECELW 12/19/2019
exercise does help. Wakes up those endorphins! Report
ERIN_POSCH 12/1/2019
thanks for sharing Report
BONNIE1552 9/23/2019
Another good reason to exercise. Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
I really do not enjoy exercising but I can definitely agree that it's needed and makes me feel much better physically and emotionally when I push through it. I appreciate the reminder and research that supports the benefits. A body in motion is a happier body! Report
Yes, I notice a difference. Not sure how long it lasts. Report
Most definitely! Report
Yes, I have noticed that when I am exercising regularly I have less trouble with depression. I'm glad this article was a reminder of that. Report
I feel better from the daily exercise because it helps keep the weight I lost from coming back, which makes me feel good. But the 3 hrs. during the day that I do the exercise bike, take away time from getting other tasks done, so that fact does Not make me feel good. I've never been on any "feel good" meds before to know if it would get rid of depression though. Report
Yes! I just exercised and I felt so much better now. Report
What do you think?
Not addicted to exercise.. no workout high.
Do you notice a difference in your mood after a workout?
Nope just hungry
How long do those feelings usually last for you?
Until I get food, usually 20 minutes or so.

Exercise is better than anti-depressants!!! Friends and family members are always making comments about the amount of time I spend doing cardio...I just explain to them that since I started exercising on a regular basis I have gone from being on two anti-depressants, a mood stabilizer and anti-anxiety medication to not being on any medications. I have more energy, I have lost the weight that the medications caused me to gain, I sleep better and I have more self-eestem and confidence.

Exercise is the best medicine and the best of all you don't need insurance because its completely free!!! Report
It is the gospel truth. I always sleep better, think better, feel better, and have more energy for my job being a nurse.

If I don't exercise, If feel "antsy", and it's all I can think about, is when can I get to the gym again.

It is the best "feel good drug" you can take. I always say I am "high" on life!
;-)) Report
So true! It definitely improves my mood and energy level for the rest of the day. Report
i know it helps my mood - my coworkers have commented how much my stress level has changed. and as xmas approaches and my stress level increases exponentially, i crave my workouts more! like when i have to go in at 7am and its still dark and i don't get out until its dark (i live in the city so dark running can equal danger), i'm bummed that i didn't get a run body can tell, and my mind screams at me over it...and then EVERYONE knows i didn't have a workout! Report
The hubby has commented before that I get very cranky when I don't exercise for several days. I know I feel much better when I can get a good ST workout in...and that only increases if it's a heavy session. Report
Agreed! Report
I feel better when I exercise - Report
When I exercise regularly, I have less, or no, back pain. So I sleep better, work more comfortably, make less stress related choices, and enjoy my off time more. Yes, I think exercise is a effective anti-depressant. So is therapy and medication. Let's not discount those. If using therapy and medication, exercise will probably increase your response to treatment in a positive way. Report
The idea of exercising and getting physically fit usually helps me with a positive attitude. Report
It fits I run at 4am, very great until about 4:30 pm, I always that it was the afternoon sugar slump. Maybe I should run the stairs at that time? Report
I do the exercise bike at least 3 hours every day, not all at once, and do feel good from doing it, but can't say the feeling lasts 12 hours. Too many other things to do the rest of the day that are not very "mood" enhancing is the reason. Report
Just getting outdoors for a bit improves my mood. Add exercise & that increases exponentially, and lasts much longer, too. Report
I have a lot of arthritic damage so exercising can cause me considerable pain, often for hours afterwards, but if I don't do it, I (and those around me) feel it more. I'm depressed, grouchy, uncooperative. I don't sleep well if I haven't exercised, don't follow thru on projects. I actually get more done around the house if I take the time to exercise first! Spark has helped me a lot by expanding the ways I can exercise, so as not to have as much pain from overusing any few joints. Report
i think exercise definitely improves my mood. i think it lasts for hours. i feel better when i start the day with exercise and i feel better when i come home after a stressful day and exercise. Report
When I frist joined Spark people 2.5 years ago I was coming out of a sever depression and on high anti depressants. I realized I need to make changes in my life or I just wasn't going to make it. So I changed jobs, left a unsupportive church and frinedship group, removed unsupportive frinds and family from my life and start doing things to make me healthy. one was exercise.
Joined a gym and started working out in the mrongings before work. Now 2.5 years later I work out 6 days a week at the gym usually in the am before work and even on the weekend. I walk my dogs 2-3 times a day 7 days a week and we average 25-30kms a week.
Today I am no longer depressed, I am on no durgs other than my thyroid meds. And am in better shape physically and emotional than I have been in years. Report
I fractured my ankle the first week of March and could not exercise for two straight weeks. Friday I was able to remove the cast and use a much smaller ankle brace, which allowed me to cycle for 40 minutes, the most cardio I've been able to do in weeks. Later that evening, my husband asked how soon it would be before I could start training for another marathon. When I asked why, he said, "You are a joy to live with when you are running and training and constantly depressed when you aren't!" He said he knew the minute he walked through the door that I had exercised that day because my shoulders where relaxed, I had a smile on my face and I was singing...I know how I feel when I exercise, but I had no idea that those feelings are projected outward as well. Report
i love biking (when the weather is good) i'm in such a good mood all afternoon! that is also why i prefer biking to work, i'm such a morning person after my morning ride (plus it gives me a chance to wake up!) Report
Afterwards I feel good, knowing that I've done something healthy towards my goals. Report
I feel great once I get past the fact that I am running. Report
My mood changes for the positive. Report
I agree!

I feel good after my work out and I sleep so much more sound. I work out in the evening. Not a morning person..
When I get up in the morning for work I feel like someone put a jolt inside me. I can get up and go and feel extra alive...
Mood changes for the positive--just ask my husband! Report
I totally notice a difference. Also a morning workout helps me fight my allergies better. Report
I usually feel good after a workout, especially those where I have to talk myself into getting to the gym. On those days once I'm there I ususally workout harder and feel great when I'm done. Report
I always feel better after a workout. It helps not only mood but my stiff joints in my knees and hips and gives me more mobility when I am exercising on a regular basis. It is also a great break from the family and the busy-ness that is my life most days. It helps me to unwind and sleep better, too. Report
I do feel great after a workout, but I have hard time to motivate myself to start. Most of the time, I just fool myself : I say I just go for a walk workout, but the time I'm done I am full of energy and I end having a great workout done (cardio+ST+stretching). Sometimes I'm a bit sore but always happy. Lifts the mood for sure. Report
I know exerise lifts my mood. I'm not sure how long it lifts it, but I do know that my mood is generally better when I'm following a good exercise regimen. Anything that doesn't leave me too sore is great. Getting a good bicycle ride in keep me happy for hours! Report
Yes, a good workout definitely lifts my spirits and will usually curb my eating for a few hours. Report
Oh, yes, even after a small exercise session, I feel much better - hours later into the next day too! Report
I am definitely addicted. :)
barb Report
I always feel better after a workout. I always came back red faced and smiling. I don't think that my mood stays positive for a full 12 hours though, more like 8 hours. Report
I feel great emotionally because I know I am doing something good for me. It lasts until mid-day the following day when it is time for my next workout. Report
I have suffered deeply with depresion and anxiety. I joined a gym last year and couldn't belive how great I felt. I can no longer afford the gym so I do what I can inside. As soon as the weather is nice I'm going on my walks. I have a beach, and a dog what more do I need. LOL I have also mapped out different routes in town. I'm wanting my teenage son to walk with me in the mornings before work and school. He's not pushing the subject but he hasn't refused yet either. Report
I love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish my workout in the morning! It sets my 'spark-ittude' for the rest of the day (even if I'm sore)! Report
I know that workout high very well, sometimes it is what gets me to pop in the video! Report
I know from first hand experience. My husband suffers from severe depression well controlled with medication . Recently he had problems with his knees and was unable to get out for his usual 3 strolls with the dogs. I noticed such a difference by the third or fourth day. His mood was greatly affected by the sedentary lifestyle he had been having to follow. Report
Exercise is my "zen" time. I have found that I cannot be stressed when my muscles are tired. Although starting is sometimes hard, I'm always happy and feel good when I'm finished. Report