Effects of acute exercise on mood and well-being in patients with major depressive disorder

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Dec;37(12):2032-7. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000178101.78322.dd.


Purpose: This study was designed to determine if a single bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise would improve mood and well-being in 40 (15 male, 25 female) individuals who were receiving treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD).

Methods: All participants were randomly assigned to exercise at 60-70% of age-predicted maximal heart rate for 30 min or to a 30-min period of quiet rest. Participants completed both the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and Subjective Exercise Experiences Scale (SEES) as indicators of mood 5 min before, and 5, 30, and 60 min following their experimental condition.

Results: Both groups reported similar reductions in measures of psychological distress, depression, confusion, fatigue, tension, and anger. Only the exercise group, however, reported a significant increase in positive well-being and vigor scores.

Conclusion: Although 30 min of either moderate-intensity treadmill exercise or quiet rest is sufficient to improve the mood and well-being of patients with MDD, exercise appears to have a greater effect on the positively valenced states measured.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Holistic Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors