You already know this: Exercise Can Aid in Emotional Regulation (PsychCentral). The way it was measured here may improve your mood (with or without exercise):
The study was conducted on 80 participants (40 men and 40 women) and each was assigned to either an aerobic exercise or no exercise (stretching).
They were asked to complete an online survey to establish their emotional mood and then immediately instructed to either jog for 30 minutes, or stretch for 30 minutes.
They were subsequently asked to watch a sad scene from the film “The Champ.” The participants then completed a range of questionnaires and measures to determine their emotion regulation.
Finally, all participants were instructed to watch a brief, amusing clip from “When Harry Met Sally.”
[P]articipants who had completed 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise reported feeling less sadness by the end of the study, in comparison to individuals who had not exercised.
New studies continue to show that exercise is good for your brain. From the NYT:
Until about 20 years ago, most scientists believed that the brain’s structure was fixed by adulthood, that you couldn’t create new brain cells, alter the shape of those that existed or in any other way change your mind physically after adolescence.
But in the years since, neurological studies have established that the brain retains plasticity, or the capacity to be reshaped, throughout our lifetimes. Exercise appears to be particularly adept at remodeling the brain, studies showed.
Looking for a quick way to exercise? Another study likes this seven minute workout. All you need is a floor, a wall, a chair, and some gravity.
Science of the runner’s high and rats on running wheels in the New York Times:
As the name suggests, endocannabinoids are chemicals that, like cannabis in marijuana, alter and lighten moods. But the body produces endocannabinoids naturally. In other studies, endocannabinoid levels have been shown to increase after prolonged running and cycling, leading many scientists to conclude that endocannabinoids help to create runner’s high.
A pedometer study shows Americans take fewer steps than people in other countries. One tidbit:
Being single was associated with taking more steps. Single people averaged 6,076 daily steps, compared to 4,793 steps for married people. Widowed participates moved the least, averaging 3,394 daily steps.
Another vote for getting up and moving around: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? (NYT)
M.R.I.’s provided a clearer picture of how it might work. They showed that fit children had significantly larger basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and “executive control,” or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply…
NYT: Does Music Make You Exercise Harder?
Just how music impacts the body during exercise…is only slowly being teased out by scientists. One study published last year found that basketball players prone to performing poorly under pressure during gameswere significantly better during high-pressure free-throw shooting if they first listened to catchy, upbeat music and lyrics (in this case, the Monty Python classic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”).
NYT: Can Exercise Moderate Anger?
For years, researchers have known that exercise can affect certain moods. Running, bike riding and other exercise programs have repeatedly been found to combat clinical depression. Similarly, a study from Germany published in April found that light-duty activity like walking or gardening made participants “happy,” in the estimation of the scientists. Even laboratory rats and mice respond emotionally to exercise; although their precise “moods” are hard to parse, their behavior indicates that exercise makes them more relaxed and confident. But what about anger, one of the more universal and, in its way, destructive moods? Can exercise influence how angry you become in certain situations?
NYT reports study about Activity and Mental Health in Women:
People who are physically active appear to be at lower risk for cognitive impairment late in life, and for women, a new study suggests, physical activity during the teenage years may provide the greatest benefit.