Talking to a friend earlier this week whose wife is a dancer. I was pointing out that I get a bit crazy if I don’t exercise, and he said the same thing happens to her – that he has to make her get some exercise sometimes just so she’s not unpleasant to be around.
It’s common to hear that from people who exercise a lot. I know it from my own experience: if I go more than a couple of days without cranking up my heart rate, get kinda anxious and depressed, lacking mental focus, that sort of thing. I know enough about how science works not to trust anecdotes, but this is me, so I take it seriously.
Turns out, according too a piece this week in Velonews about exercise and depression, mine and my dancer friend’s anecdotes are commonly reported, but apparently no one has ever studied the issue:
Many people describe feeling worse, cranky, irritable, and moody if they don’t get their exercise – a phenomenon that, to the best of our knowledge, has not been formally examined.
There’s good data suggesting a link between exercise and a reduction in stress, and between a reduction in stress and a reduction in depression – a place I’ll gladly go. But, as scientists like to say, clearly more research is needed.