A Simple Trick to Boost the Positive Mood Effect of Exercise

Happy Mood Boost

It’s well known that exercise can have a positive effective on your mood so how would you like to give that positive mood a boost? Well a new study has found a simple way to do just that. The trick is to use an enjoyable distraction.

Distractions are quite commonly used to control focus and levels of arousal whilst training but this new study by Gregory Privitera investigated what impact distractions had on the mood of the exerciser after exercising.

The study, published in The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, looked at 4 different groups:

a) A group that exercised with no distractions
b) A group that exercised with an enjoyable distraction
c) A group that exercised with a less enjoyable distraction
d) A group that did no exercise but used an enjoyable distraction

The biggest impacts on mood were found in both groups that exercised with distractions but one had a positive impact and the other had a negative impact.  The group that used the enjoyable distraction reported a significant boost in their mood not just compared to the group who used the less enjoyable distraction but also compared to the other two groups.

What was the distraction? In the study the researchers used TV as their distraction, specifically the programme Two and a Half Men. Prior to the study, participants were asked to rate how enjoyable they found that show.  The group who thought it was an enjoyable programme and then watched it whilst they exercised, got an additional mood boost compared to all of the other groups.

So whilst we know that exercise can boost our mood, and we also know that engaging in an enjoyable distraction, like watching TV, can also boost our mood, if we can combine the two then we get a double whammy effect and get the benefit of both. The key thing is that it must be an enjoyable distraction or it could well have a detrimental effect.

Important points to note are that the distraction did not cause a decrease in effort during exercise and there’s also no reason to suggest that the benefits are only limited to just watching TV. It’s possible to use any form of distraction as long as you consider the distraction to be enjoyable.

Image credit: Antoine Robiez

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