Exercise improves mood and motivation

By Faeza
01 June 2016

Exercise isn’t just about losing weight or getting fit; it is also a key way to improve and alleviate symptoms of health issues such as ADHD and depression, experts claim.

In a small study conducted by the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia, researchers assessed 32 adult men who reported having symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – with two in the group having an official diagnosis from a psychiatrist.

Researchers measured the men’s ability to pay attention, ability to perform mental tasks, leg hyperactivity as well as their mood before and after they either sat or biked for 20 minutes.

In all, they found that exercising did enhance motivation and energy levels, with the men reporting less fatigue or feelings of depression after they had exercised. While exercise did not appear to have an impact on cognitive abilities or levels of hyperactivity, the researchers found that such activity also didn’t cause feelings of hyperactivity to increase either.

“There is very strong and consistent evidence that a single short, moderate-intensity bout of exercise is associated with increased feelings of energy, so if people need a reason to work out, the energy boost with exercise is a worthwhile one,” said study author Dr Patrick J. O’Connor, according to Time.com.

The researchers now hope to use their findings to investigate ways to improve ADHD symptoms without the use of drugs or other pharmaceuticals.

While the University of Georgia study focused on a small group, it’s findings support the argument that regular exercise is beneficial for mental health.

It also relates to a larger study published in 2014 which followed 11,000 people for 50 years. They found that people who are active during adulthood had fewer symptoms of depression than those who didn’t exercise as often.

The study results were first published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.