skip to Main Content
illustration smiley face intertwined with shoelace

Myriad past studies have found links between physical activity and improved mood in participants with serious clinical conditions. But a recent Columbia University Health Center study, published in Health Psychology, examined whether generally healthy but inactive people without a history of mood disorders could become even happier and better adjusted if they started exercise regimens.

Researchers followed 119 men and women ages 20 to 45. After answering questionnaires about their mental health and lifestyle habits, such as smoking, they were divided into a sedentary control group and an active group. The latter group performed moderate aerobic exercise led by coaches four times weekly for three months; each session included walking, jogging, or riding on a stationary bicycle for 35 minutes and raising participants’ heart rates to 70 to 80 percent of their max.

The aerobic exercise had significant mental-health benefits, as reported by participants on follow-up surveys. And those perks lingered for weeks after people stopped exercising.

“This study reminds us that we have this coping tool available to us,” lead study author and Columbia instructor Kathleen McIntyre, MSW, told the New York Times. “If you can get outside and walk or hike or run safely, it should help with the negative feelings that just about everyone has been experiencing recently.”

This article originally appeared in Experience LifeLife Time’s whole-life health and fitness magazine.

Michael Dregni

Michael Dregni is an Experience Life deputy editor.

Thoughts to share?

More From Life Time

One Positive Action

Start With One Positive Action

One is the beginning of more. When you start with one simple step, we can help you build a healthy routine of your choice that gets you moving more, eating better, practicing mindfulness or serving your community — all-year long.

Explore All One Positive Action Ideas & Events

More Like This

A man and a woman in a boxing class at a fitness facility.
By Molly Schelper
Whether you prefer to unwind with quiet stillness or release emotion with high-energy movement, there’s a fitness class suited to your stress-management style.
A man laying stretched out on the floor.
By Experience Life Staff
Can a single workout help our memory?
Back To Top