Many runners experience the phenomenon called “runner’s high”, which is caused by a surge of endorphins in the brain, the body’s “feel good” chemicals.
Some weight-lifters may experience something similar, but is it as strong as runner’s high? Does it improve mood to the same degree as running?
According to researchers at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, in the study, Effects of running and other activities on moods:
The purpose of this study was to compare the moods and mood variations of runners to those of aerobic dancers, weight-lifters, and nonexercising controls. The subjects, 70 undergraduates, were participants in a jogging and conditioning, a weight training, an aerobic dance, or an introductory psychology class. A time-series design was used in which all participants completed eight Profile of Mood State questionnaires over a 6-hr. period that centered on the time of the class. Four questionnaires were completed during the second week of classes and the other four about midsemester, approximately 6 wk. later. Runners had a significantly more positive mood profile than nonexercisers and a somewhat more positive one than weight-lifters, but those of runners and aerobic dancers were similar. Changes in moods across time in relation to activity and across semester suggest that exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, helps the regular participant not only to cope with stress but also to have a generally more positive feeling of well-being.
Interestingly, the aerobic dancers were similar to runners in terms of mood. I gotta admit that I usually find strength-training dull compared to running, and so this study didn’t surprise me. The results of this study imply cardio in general is probably better at improving mood than strength-training. My own experience confirms this.