People choose to spend their precious weekend hours in different ways. Sometimes taking it easy and recharging your batteries is just what you need to start the next week off fresh. Other times, you might find that planning a physically active weekend is the antidote to stress.
Why is it that weekend exercise can boost your mood when you wake up on Monday morning, though? And are there other factors that have to be in place to reap the benefits of an active weekend?
A new study in the journal Stress and Health sheds light on both of these questions. Researchers tracked 70 employees over the course of four weekends, paying special attention how much they engaged in physical activity on the weekends and what their mood was like on Monday.
They found that those who had a more physically active weekend were in a better mood on Monday, but only under certain conditions. First, they had to sleep longer on weekend nights. And second, they had to experience high levels of psychological detachment from work – if they didn’t, their mood on Monday was actually worse.
There are a couple ways to interpret these findings. One possible explanation is that weekend exercise has psychological benefits on Monday because it helps people sleep better and get out of their workplace mindset. Alternatively, it could be that exercise boosts people’s Monday-morning mood for other reasons, but that adequate sleep and freeing your mind from work are prerequisites for enjoying the psychological benefits that exercise can bring.
In either case, you probably can’t go wrong with finding some physical activities you enjoy and doing them over the weekend. And, judging by this study, you especially can’t go wrong if you do so while making it a goal to catch up on sleep and focus on things other than work.
Image: Flickr/Fit Approach