The effect of physical activity on anhedonia in individuals with depressive symptoms

Sun Ching-Wen (Corresponding Author), Ya-Jing Wang , Yu-Qi Fang , Yu-Qian He, Chun Lung So, Ho Keung David Shum, Chao Yan (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The therapeutic effect of antidepressants has been demonstrated for anhedonia in patients with depression. However, antidepressants may cause side-effects, such as cardiovascular dysfunction. Although physical activity has minor side-effects, it may serve as an alternative for improving anhedonia and depression. We sought to investigate whether physical activity reduces the level of anhedonia in individuals with depression. Fifty-six university students with moderate depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory total score > 16) were divided into three training groups: the Running Group (RG, n = 19), the Stretching Group (SG, n = 19), and the Control Group (n = 18). We employed the Monetary Incentive Delay (MID) task and the Temporal Experience of Pleasure Scale (TEPS) to evaluate hedonic capacity. All participants in the RG and SG received 8 weeks of jogging and stretching training, respectively. The RG experienced an increase in the level of arousal during anticipation of a future reward and recalled less negativity towards the loss condition. The SG exhibited enhanced scores on the Anticipatory and Consummatory Pleasure subscales of the TEPS after training. Moreover, in the RG, greater improvements in anticipatory arousal ratings for pleasure and remembered valence ratings for negative affect were associated with longer training duration, lower maximum heart rate, and higher consumed calories during training. To conclude, physical activity is effective in improving anticipatory anhedonia in individuals with depressive symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPsyCh Journal
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2021


  • anhedonia
  • anticipatory pleasure
  • depressive symptom
  • physical exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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