Increasing one’s level of physical activity may be an effective way to boost one’s mood, according to a new study from a team including scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Intramural Research Program. The findings were published online December 12 in JAMA Psychiatry.
The researchers found that increases in physical activity tended to be followed by increases in mood and perceived energy level. This beneficial effect was even more pronounced for a subset of the study subjects who had bipolar disorder. For the study, activity trackers and electronic diaries were used for two weeks in a community sample of 242 (150 women and 92 men) adults, ages 15 to 84, with an average age of 48 years. The sample included 54 people with bipolar disorder.
Mobile assessments in the study included wrist-worn devices that automatically recorded levels of physical movement in real time and electronic diaries that assessed mood and perceived energy levels four times per day for two weeks. These real-time mood and energy levels were rated by study participants on a seven-point analogue scale from “very happy” to “very sad” for mood and from “very tired” to “very energetic” for energy.
“Systems regulating sleep, motor activity and mood have typically been studied independently. This work demonstrates the importance of examining these systems jointly rather than in isolation,” says Dr. Vadim Zipunnikov, an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s department of biostatistics, who led the data analyses.