More Scientific Proof of the Mood-Enhancing Powers of Exercise

Though you assure your members that exercise will make them feel better mentally and physically, a recent study provides scientific reasoning why this is the case.

In the study, researchers linked an increase in a mood-boosting chemical in the brain to exercise (British Journal of Sports Medicine). Researchers tested 20 healthy young men’s concentration of phenylethylamine, a natural chemical linked to energy, mood and attention. The men refrained from activity for one day, and ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes the next day. Urine samples were taken from the men after each day and then compared. On the day the men exercised, their phenylethylamine concentrations increased by an average of 77 percent. For 18 of the 20 men, phenylethylamine levels increased from 14 to 572 percent after exercise.

Because phenylethylamine is similar to amphetamines, the researchers speculate that the chemical may play a role in the “runner’s high,” or energy boost received after exercise. As research shows that people with depression and bipolar disorder have lower than normal levels of phenylethylamine, the researchers suggest that the effects of exercise be tested on people who have clinical depression.