The physical benefits of regular exercise are universally accepted, and the mental health benefits—particularly as they relate to anxiety and depression—are becoming more widely acknowledged as well. According to a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting in 2010, we may be able to add anger management to the list. From the ACSM:
A research team assessed angry mood and emotions in 16 collegiate men high in “trait anger.” The subjects viewed anger-inducing scenes before and after 30 minutes of leg-cycling exercise at 65 percent of their maximal oxygen uptake. The investigators measured oscillatory brain activity, the event-related late-positive potential (LPP), and self-reports of anger intensity during picture viewing.
“The major novel finding from this study is that exercise protected against angry mood induction, almost like taking aspirin to prevent a heart attack,” said lead investigator Nathaniel Thom, Ph.D., a stress physiologist.
In another paper, published in 2005 in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, researchers from the University of Essex confirmed something that most of us bicycle riders already knew intuitively: as little as five minutes a day of exercise in a natural environment can improve mental health. The activities studied included walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming. From the study:
Our findings suggest that exercise in pleasant environments may have a greater effect than
exercise alone on blood pressure, an important measure of cardiovascular health, and on
measures that are relevant to mental health. We conclude that green exercise has important
implications for public and environmental health. A fitter and emotionally more content
population would clearly cost the economy less as well as reducing individual human
The message here? Ride your bike and participate in active transportation on a daily basis to be a happier and healthier person!