If you’re struggling to fit a whole hour of gym time into your schedule, don’t fear. A tight 10 minutes is really all you need to reap mood-boosting benefits!
After conducting a systematic review on the effects of exercise, research published in the Journal of Psychology found that completing just 10 minutes of exercise led to a boost in the mood of participants. That's right: running away from stress takes less time than watching an episode of your favorite sitcom.
Researchers also discovered that some forms of workout produced greater mood-boosting benefits than others. To enjoy maximum cheering up benefits, practice a workout that has moderate intensity, meaning the workout should be a bit of a challenge, but not overly exerting. Completing workouts that were too easy or too difficult did not impact mood as positively as completing workouts that had moderate intensity.
Additionally, the type of workout also makes a difference in your mood. Anaerobic exercise, or exercise that is more intense and better suited for short bursts, is more likely to boost your mood than aerobic exercise, which causes less exertion and can be sustained over longer periods of time. Anaerobic exercise consists of exercises that help build lean muscle and build endurance and fitness levels, such as sprinting and lifting weights. On the other hand, aerobic exercise burns fat and strengthens the heart and lungs, and examples of aerobic exercise include biking and light jogging.
If you’re really in a pinch for time, don’t sweat it — the study also found little evidence to support mood-boosting benefits for working out past that 30-minute mark. So, if you’re aiming to use working out as a means to destress, less really is more. Whether you have a gym membership, use workout videos at home, or prefer to run around your block, regular exercise is a cost-effective way to help keep stress at bay and improve physical health.
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.