I went for a long run last night. It was amazing how great it made me feel. I felt energetic, alive and refreshed. Even though I sometimes drag my feet to do it, I always feel better after a good workout, no matter how tired or how moody I was before the exercise. So is it just a feeling? Or is there any research to back up this good feeling?
I put on my “research hat,” and below is what I found:
The effect of physical exercise on the regulation of menstrual cycles and the reproductive system was first considered in 1939. Since them, many studies have consistently confirmed the effect of exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, on reducing PMS symptoms, especially mood-related symptoms such as anger and depression.
A systematic review by Stevenson and Ernst in 2001 showed that, in many studies, aerobic exercise is recommended as a first-line treatment for the reduction of PMS symptoms.
In 2007 Ghanbari et al at Tehran University showed that three months of regular aerobic exercise effectively reduced the severity of PMS symptoms. The exercise program in the study consisted of a five-minute warm up, 45 minutes of limb and trunk fast exercise, and a ten-minute cool down, which was carried out three times a week for three months.
So what qualifies as aerobic exercise?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines aerobic exercise as “any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature.” It is a type of exercise that overloads the heart and lungs and causes them to work harder than at rest.
Examples of aerobic exercise include running, stair climbing, swimming, fitness walking, aerobic dance, bicycling, cross country skiing, and in-line skating.
Do you do any of those exercises regularly? If you do, keep it up. You’re on the right track. If not, try them out and find something you enjoy, and do it regularly.