How long does it take for exercise to improve mood?

Learn more about the mood-boosting benefits of exercise

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S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
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08 June 2021

How long does it take for exercise to improve mood?

It can take between 10 to 60 minutes before exercise starts to improve mood through the release of endorphins. Research has shown that aerobic exercises, such as jogging or an exercise class, have been found to bring benefits to mood within this period of 60 minutes or less.

How does exercise improve your mood?

Endorphins are chemicals that are produced and released in an area of the brain known as the pituitary gland. They are commonly released during exercise and cause the changes in mood that can occur at this time. They have been associated with increased positivity, for example, as well as feelings of elation. In addition, endorphins can have a beneficial impact on pain levels, stress levels and anxiety levels.

How long does it take for exercise to improve mood?

It may take between 10 to 60 minutes of exercise before endorphins start to improve mood.

In a 2018 survey involving over 2000 adults, it was found that it could take as little as 9 minutes and 44 seconds before individuals began to feel the enjoyment of exercise. Interestingly, this study showed that, on average, women experienced these feelings one minute faster than men! It was also found that the 18-25-year-old age group were quickest to feel the mood-related benefits of exercise. (1)

However, it's important to note that this particular study included participants who exercised at least 3 times per week and so this may affect how quickly they felt the mood-related benefits of exercise.

Elsewhere, studies have suggested that 30 minutes of continuous exercise can bring on the release of endorphins, suggesting that at this point we would begin to see improvements to our mood. (2)

In another study, 60 minutes of aerobic exercise was found to be the time it took for endorphins to improve mood. (3)

So, as we can see, it can take anywhere between 10-60 minutes for exercise to benefit mood. This means there may be some variation from person to person in regards to when exactly they will experience these positive effects. However, regardless of how long it takes for endorphins to kick in, the key here is really just to keep exercise up on a regular basis in order to improve your mood routinely.

How do you activate endorphins?

Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins within a 60-minute window. As aerobic exercises include anything that gets your heart pumping and your breathing up, there are plenty of activities to choose from to help activate endorphins. Some possible options include taking up a Couch to 5K jogging plan, walking up a big hill or, if you prefer an instructor-led class, a dance class like Zumba or ChiChit fit may be for you. This last option is a Broadway-style dance class which sounds like great fun!

However, it isn't just exercise that activates endorphins! A number of other activities could bring improvements to mood through the release of these chemicals. This includes singing, eating your favourite foods, laughing with friends and family, watching a good comedy show and even taking up a new instrument. So, if you don't fancy doing laps around your local park, there are plenty of other ways to get your fix of endorphins!

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