More than just feeling good, physical activity makes you enthusiastic!
“Pleasant-activated” is the scientific term used to describe excited, enthusiastic feelings, which new research reveals are triggered by physical activity. As “to excite” is defined in Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “to call to activity,” more than just a mood boost, this research suggests that physical activity can be a motivator! Excitement and enthusiasm in individuals can translate to action completing other projects or tasks. The more you move, the more excited you get, the more happy you become!
The Penn State researchers published their results in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. The team separated study participants’ feeling states into four categories:
- pleasant-activated feelings exemplified by excitement and enthusiasm
- pleasant-deactivated feelings exemplified by satisfaction and relaxation
- unpleasant-activated feelings exemplified by anxiety and anger
- unpleasant-deactivated feelings exemplified by depression and sadness.
“Knowing that moderate and vigorous physical activity generates a pleasant-activated feeling, rather than just a pleasant feeling, might help to explain why physical activity is so much more effective for treating depression rather than anxiety,” says David Conroy, professor of kinesiology at Penn State.
People who are more physically active report greater levels of excitement and enthusiasm than people who are less physically active. People also are more likely to report feelings of excitement and enthusiasm on days when they are more physically active than usual.
“You don’t have to be the fittest person who is exercising every day to receive the feel-good benefits of exercise,” says Conroy. “It’s a matter of taking it one day at a time, of trying to get your activity in, and then there’s this feel-good reward afterwards.”
It can be hard for people to commit to an exercise program because we tend to set long-term goals. “When people set New Year’s resolutions, they set them up to include the entire upcoming year, but that can be really overwhelming,” Conroy says. “Taking it one day at a time and savoring that feel-good effect at the end of the day might be one step to break it down and get those daily rewards for activity. Doing this could help people be a little more encouraged to stay active and keep up the program they started.”
Exercise for an Enthusiasm Boost
Amanda Hyde, graduate researchers, says, “Our results suggest that not only are there chronic benefits of physical activity, but there are discrete benefits as well. Doing more exercise than you typically do can give you a burst of pleasant-activated feelings. So today, if you want a boost, go do some moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise.”