“Physical activity is associated with improved affective experience and enhanced cognitive processing.”
It is known. But it doesn’t hurt to take a deeper look to get a robust understanding of what’s going on.
Here’s the Abstract:
Physical activity is associated with improved affective experience and enhanced cognitive processing. Potential age differences in the degree of benefit, however, are poorly understood because most studies examine either younger or older adults. The present study examined age differences in cognitive performance and affective experience immediately following a single bout of moderate exercise. Participants (144 community members aged 19 to 93) were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions: (a) exercise (15 min of moderate intensity stationary cycling) or (b) control (15 min completing ratings of neutral IAPS images). Before and after the manipulation, participants completed tests of working memory and momentary affect experience was measured. Results suggest that exercise is associated with increased levels of high-arousal positive affect (HAP) and decreased levels of low-arousal positive affect (LAP) relative to control condition. Age moderated the effects of exercise on LAP, such that younger age was associated with a drop in reported LAP postexercise, whereas the effects of exercise on HAP were consistent across age. Exercise also led to faster RTs on a working memory task than the control condition across age. Self-reported negative affect was unchanged. Overall, findings suggest that exercise may hold important benefits for both affective experience and cognitive performance regardless of age.
“Exercise boosts your body’s fitness and also your mood, both of which contribute to your overall health and well-being.”
But wait, there’s more. An excerpt from another article:
A large body of research has consistently shown that regular exercise is associated with lower incidence of depression. (6) There are several mechanisms and factors that are thought to be at work, and more research is needed to determine exactly why and how exercise helps with mood. But according to a review published in 2013 in the journal Neuropsychobiology, exercise is associated with the release of neurotransmitters and proteins called neurotrophic factors, which cause nerves to make new connections, possibly improving brain function and possibly playing a role in the reduction of depressive symptoms. (7)
While physical activity itself provides a beneficial effect, the social aspect may also play a role in boosting mood. Heading to the park, the gym, or taking a group workout class gets you out of the house and interacting with others, which can ease isolation. And loneliness and social isolation are nothing to underestimate when it comes to mental health and well-being. A review of studies published in March 2015 in Perspectives on Psychological Health noted that both actual and perceived social isolation are associated with increased risk for early mortality. (8)