For years, researchers have known that exercise can affect certain moods. Running, walking, bike riding and other exercise programs have repeatedly been found to combat clinical depression, and even make people “happy.”
But what about anger? Can exercise influence how angry you become in certain situations?
A study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine provides some provocative answers.
Researchers tested men with short fuses by showing slides, intended to induce anger, depicted upsetting events like children under fire from soldiers. Electrical activity in the men’s brains indicated that they were growing angry during the display.
After viewing the slides again, the men either sat quietly or rode a stationary bike for 30 minutes.
The results showed that when the volunteers hadn’t exercised, their second viewing of the slides aroused significantly more anger than the first. After exercise the men’s anger reached a plateau. What the results of the study suggest is that exercise, even a single bout of it, can have a robust prophylactic effect against the buildup of anger, When the men did not exercise, they had considerable difficulty controlling their racing emotion. But after exercise their moods were under firmer control.