5 Mood-Boosting Workouts
The science: When you spin your wheels, you’re not just spinning your wheels—even if your bike rides aren’t Tour de France length. Researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens (UGA) found that after a single 30-minute session of stationary cycling, subjects reported a boost in their energy levels. In addition, the authors of the study were able to record positive electrical changes in the subjects’ brains related to energy (the measurements were taken by an electroencephalogram). “The cycling seemed to activate brain neural circuits that make a person feel energized,” says Patrick O’Connor, a professor of kinesiology at UGA. “We tend to think of physical activity as being tiring, but in fact physical activity adds energy to our lives,” says Kate F. Hays, Ph.D., a clinical and sport psychologist in Toronto.
How to put it into practice: Although a single session of cycling will put some pep in your step, for lasting results, try cycling “at a light to moderate pace on a stationary bike for 15 minutes three times a week,” says Rick Mayo, a cycling instructor and the owner of North Point Personal Training, in Roswell, Georgia. This will provide the stimulus needed for a consistent increase in energy. And don’t limit your workouts to the gym. Research shows that any kind of exercise done outdoors may boost energy more than indoor activity does.