How Long Does It Take for Exercise to Boost Your Mood? Would You Believe Only 10 Minutes?

How Long Does It Take for Exercise to Boost Your Mood? Would You Believe Only 10 Minutes?

(Last Updated On: May 12, 2019)

Cane exercise boodt your mood?

One of the benefits of exercise is it makes you feel good, not just longer term but after a single workout. Ever noticed that? Once you begin moving your body and the blood starts pumping to your brain and other organs, you feel energized! In fact, research shows movement is one of the best antidotes for fatigue and mental exhaustion. There’s a lot going on in your brain and nervous system too when you work out. Studies show exercise alters levels of neurotransmitters, like norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, that positively impact mood.

In other words, exercise is a mood booster! Plus, exercise stimulates the release of calming, pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins. Some people say that endorphin release gives them a sense of euphoria. You’ve heard of the runner’s high? It’s the reason runners get addicted to running and endorphins seem to be responsible for some of those good feelings.

What Are Endorphins?

Endorphins are natural anesthetic compounds, meaning they reduce pain. In fact, endorphins are similar in structure to morphine and codeine. Your brain releases these chemicals during exercise, orgasm and when you’re in pain or under stress. In fact, prescription pain killers mimic the effects of endorphins and bind to the same receptors in the brain. We know that prescription pain medications can be addictive. What about endorphins? You may have heard people say they’re addicted to running or hooked on working out. Some experts believe the desire for endorphin release may explain why people get hooked on exercise.

What Type of Exercise Improves Mood the Most?

Do you have to exercise for an hour or more to get that calming, mood-lifting endorphin release? According to a new British survey, the endorphin release and the mood boost happens quickly, in just under 10 minutes after an exercise session starts. According to the survey, women experience endorphin release faster than men, an average of nine minutes 20 seconds compared to 10 minutes, 20 seconds in men.

Age seems is a factor too. Young adults between the ages 18 and 24 reach their exercise nirvana the quickest. They feel the effects of endorphins in just under seven minutes. In contrast, adults between the ages of 45 and 54 feel the bliss of exercise in just over seven minutes. It takes longest for adults between the ages of 35 and 44. According to the survey, they reach their peaceful state in just under 13 minutes after beginning a workout. Exercise intensity has an impact too. Runners experience the endorphin effect faster than walkers and hikers. So, to get those good feelings faster, pick up the pace.

Speaking of exercise intensity, a study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that high-intensity exercise leads to a greater surge in endorphins and boost in mood. In the study, 22 healthy, male adults who did an hour of high-intensity interval training experienced a greater increase in endorphins than those who did a less intense workout. Endorphin release was monitored using positron emission tomography or PET. The greatest increase in endorphins was from areas of the brain involved in reward, the perception of pain, and mood. Another small study found that endorphin levels only rose substantially after participants exercised at 70% of their aerobic capacity (V02 max) or greater.

Interestingly, the exercise-associated release of endorphins was also associated with negative feelings. We all know high-intensity workouts are demanding and it’s not always fun when you’re doing one. During the high-intensity exercise, the guys in the study, understandably, had some negative feelings due to the vigorous nature of the exercise. These negative feelings were correlated with greater endorphin release. The endorphin release may be a mechanism the body uses to deal with extreme challenges and the negative feelings that go with them.

Other Mood-Boosting Benefits of Exercise

Studies link regular physical activity with a lower risk of depression. Some studies also show exercise reduces anxiety, and that hyped up feeling that goes with being “stressed out.” The release of endorphins explains some of the anti-depressant effects of exercise, but changes in other neurotransmitters likely play a role as well. Here’s the interesting part. Studies show exercise is more effective than many other commonly used therapies for depression, including cognitive therapy, meditation, and occupational therapy. Plus, exercise is a natural therapy with only positive side effects. The reason? It may be due to changes in the levels of key neurotransmitters that regulate mood, but exercise also has an anti-inflammatory effect. Some research links chronic depression with low-grade inflammation. Plus, working out boosts self-esteem and confidence.

In addition, studies show exercise improves sleep quality. In fact, a study found that insomnia was less common in people with higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. Workouts may improve sleep quality in several ways. For one, preliminary research suggests that exercise may help properly set the body’s internal biological clock.

The Bottom Line

When you’re feeling down or stressed out, a quick workout might be all you need to get back on track. As little as ten minutes of exercise is enough to send mood-boosting endorphins pouring into your bloodstream. High-intensity exercise is your best bet as it stimulates the greatest release of endorphins, but don’t overdo vigorous exercise. Too much without adequate recovery can have a negative impact on your mood. Keep your workouts balanced! Vary them too so you don’t become too repetitious in your training. It’ll help you avoid plateaus and repetitive stress injuries.



· “Under 10 Minutes of Exercise Needed to Reach Endorphin High, Study Finds”

·        Medical News Today. “Endorphin release differs by exercise intensity, study finds”

·        Neuropsychopharmacology volume 43, pages 246–254 (2018)

·        Medical News Today. “Endorphin release differs by exercise intensity, study finds”

·        Br J Sports Med. 2004 Oct;38(5):536-41.

·        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990 Apr;22(2):241-4.

· “Exercise and Depression”

·        Harvard Health Publishing. “Exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression”

·        Prof Psychol Res Pract 1999;30:275-82.

·        Adv Prev Med. 2017; 2017: 1364387.


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