Track driving boosts mood more than a gym workout, finds study

Driving on a circuit has a more positive impact on a person’s mood than a visit to the gym, a new study has discovered.

Abarth and Loughborough University have teamed up to look at the positive impact that driving on track can have on a person’s emotions, with the ‘Circuit Training Mood Test’ developed to look at the different emotional responses a person has going around a track compared with a gym workout.

Attendees drove laps of Mallory Park Race Circuit in an Abarth F595, 595 Essesse and 595 Competizione, before being taken out for a ‘hot lap’ from a professional driver. Then, Loughborough University put on a set of cardio and resistance training exercises at its sporting facility.

Track driving study
Heart monitors were used

In order to calculate how the moods of people changed, different monitoring systems were used including facial recognition technology, which was set up in the gym and car to track people’s facial expressions. A heart rate monitor was also operated.

The test found that happiness levels were 116 per cent higher when the attendees were driving compared with the cardio workout yet there was only a small difference in mood – four per cent – between track driving and a weights session.

Alongside, it found that people were 20 per cent happier when taking on a precision driving circuit session compared with a gym workout consisting of a cardio and weights session. They were 63 per cent happier when compared to doing cardio alone, too.

Track driving study
A number of Abarth models were used

The test also revealed that having a ‘hot lap’ in the passenger seat being driven by a professional driver was, on average, 77 per cent more enjoyable than a gym workout that consisted of cardio and resistance training.

Reader in Digital Health, Dr Dale Esliger at Loughborough University, who led the experiment said: “It is widely reported about how important physical activity is, not only for a person’s physical wellbeing but also their emotional state.

“However, we know much less about how driving – specifically on a racetrack – can impact an individual’s mood.

“The preliminary data indicates that while both the track and gym activity had positive emotional benefits, in this case, the thrill of the track driving element undoubtedly came out on top in boosting the mood of the attendees.”