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Physical exercise is a lifter of mood. What’s more, the effects are immediate. You don’t have to train for weeks to benefit, and even a brief, brisk 15-minute walk will do the trick.

“Much evidence indicates that tense-tiredness helps create the most
undesirable moods and probably underlies depression, low self~
esteem, negative thoughts of all sorts, and many kinds of dysfunctional behaviour, including the use of drugs and alcohol to alter mood.” (Thayer 1996)

The obstacle is that, when a person feels down, they often lack the motivation to do anything about it.

The solution, according to Thayer, is to use the knowledge that exercise can quickly alter your mood as a spur to action.  This takes “a kind of teeth-gritting self-control” driven by the promise of positive change. But because the results are immediate, you don’t have to wait for the pay-off.

A key factor here is the understanding that you can control mood, rather than the mood controlling you. It’s hard enough to alter one’s own mood, but if you don’t believe that it’s possible, why would you even start?

When the mood wins, you lose.


Thayer, R. E., (1996), The Origin of Everyday Moods; Managing Energy, Tension and Stress, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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