Experts believe that exercise's mood-boosting effects are partly due to a rise in levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, in the brain.
The findings point yet again to exercise as a cheap, easily accessible tool against blue moods and even depression, Sibold said. "I think that's really important for the general public to know -- depression is so widespread."
The "dose" of exercise needed to lift mood is not a lot, Sibold said. "We aren't talking about a Lance Armstrong workout." A few minutes a day could pay off, he said.
He urged people to pick an activity they enjoy. Gardening, walking, square dancing or other activities all count, Sibold said.
The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines support the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. That can be done in five days a week in 30-minute sessions, experts suggest.
The new findings, according to Sibold, should improve the ability of health care professionals to prescribe exercise as a treatment for mood enhancement in healthy people.
The study results came as no surprise to Jennifer Mears, an exercise physiologist and corporate fitness specialist in Colorado Springs, Colo. "There are a lot of other research studies and information out there that would back that up," she said of Sibold's findings.
What is different and noteworthy about his study, she agreed, is the longer follow-up time.
For more on the mood-exercise connection, visit the American Council on Exercise.
SOURCES: Jeremy Sibold, Ed.D., certified athletic trainer and assist
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