It is more beneficial for people’s moods to exercise at a moderate rate than to not exercise at all

Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation:

Yesterday, the Department of Exercise and Sports Science at Manchester Metropolitan University presented the findings of a research about strenuous exercise and depression at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Glasgow.

The research suggests that strenuous exercise may be unpleasant at the time but once you have recovered it leads to greater improvements in mood compared to less strenuous exercise.

Currently, we recommend that people should try to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. Moderate exercise means being energetic enough to breathe a little heavier than normal and to feel warmer.

It is not surprising that this research has shown that those who partake in more strenuous exercise experience greater improvements to their mood than those who exercise more moderately or not at all – some experts would suggest that this is due to an increased level of endorphin production.

However, intense exercise is not a realistic goal for everybody as each person has a different level of physical health. For those who cannot build up to such a vigorous pace, it is far more beneficial for your mood to exercise at a moderate intensity than to not exercise at all. Seek advice from your GP if you are concerned about the type and intensity of the exercise that you should be doing.

Published 06 May 2011 |
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There are 5 comments.

  • Fully agree but when you have a long term condition like Rhumatoid Arthritis it is very hard to get going.

    Anonymous 09 May 2011
  • Usually I would totally agree with these findings. However there should also be a note of caution. I used intense exercise including running, cycling, hockey and circuits to stave off depression. Unfortunately it didn't work and the exercise became another way of self harming. I was training sometimes twice a day knowing I was deliberately overtraining and not eating nearly enough. I which it was as simple as telling people to exercise though it can be a great help for many

    Anonymous 09 May 2011
  • Exercise should be as important to all of us as eating and breathing. Our bodies need to healthy in order for everything else to work well, and this includes psychological aspects. Good work on the report.

    L. Eric Warren, The Essentia Group 10 May 2011
  • I used to swim but after starting circuit training I found just how lonely this activity was. Life guard training helped build up positive, supportive relationships, unconnected to outside problems: a good reprieve. Exercise does help, especially if there is a social aspect, such as working in teams for circuits.

    Anonymous 17 May 2011
  • Exercise is so important! Great to see findings such as these being publicised. Obviously things need to be done in moderation, however the benefits of physical activity on both physical and mental health mean it is well worth it! 05 September 2011
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