POMS (Profile of Mood States)  


The POMS test (Profile of Mood States) is a validated test by McNair et al. (1971). The test’s tables of normative values were derived from normal college students and psychiatric outpatients, but McNair et al. (1971) acknowledged the possibilities using the test also in other environments. The POMS test became an assessment tool for sport and exercise environments; until the year 2000 there were already over 200 published articles featuring POMS. The validity of using original tables of normative values in context of sport has been questioned. Researchers have been using either original tables or generating their own norms. (Terry et al., 2000)

The Profile of Mood States is a 65-item inventory with six different subscales of:

  1. Tension-Anxiety (range 0-36)
  2. Depression-Dejection (range 0-60)
  3. Anger-Hostility (range 0-48)
  4. Fatigue-Inertia (range 0-28)
  5. Confusion-Bewilderment (range 0-28)
  6. and Vigor-Activity (range 0-32)

Each mood description (for example “Friendly”) is answered by the question “How are you feeling right now?” and rated in 5-point scale between not at all (=0) to extremely (=4). The scores in each subscale and Total Mood Disturbance (TMD) are calculated with a formula. The TMD can be something between -30–200, a lower score describing better mood state. In our pilot testing we chose to use original tables of McNair et al. (1971). The mood states were assessed before and after workout, and analyised through online questionnaire by Mackenzie (2001).

According to Reigal et al. (2021) mood is positively related to physical activity. Moderate PA improves positive mood states and lowers the state of anxiety better than vigorous PA, excluding young men, who scored better when engaging in vigorous PA. The mood state is also affected by individual’s own perception of state of health, which is again related to PA. (Reigal et al., 2021) Fennell et al. (2022) found increase of PA and POMS vigor, and decrease in POMS anger and POMS depression during lockdown of covid-19, meaning better energy levels and less feelings of anger. Also TMD increased due to increased PA. Hansen et al. (2001) found in the bicycle exercise study, that PA improves levels of vigor and reduces levels of fatigue, confusion and total negative mood even after 10 minutes of exercise.

Cramer et al. (1991) used the POMS test, Daily Hassles Scale (DHS), Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory (S-Anxiety) and General Well-being Schedule (GWB) to research relationship between moderate exercise training and psychological wellbeing of women. All the other tests and scales had significant effects on the tested classifications, but POMS scores were not significantly related to exercise training. Like Terry et al. (2000) suggests, the POMS testing with normative values is not always appropriate in sport and exercise environments. 

Regardless of physical activity’s positive effects to mood states and TMD scores, if the exercise is constantly too intense, there is a risk for experiencing depression caused by excessive exercise or overtraining syndrome (Peluso et al., 2005). Swenson et al. (2021) found that compared to non-skiers, long-distance skiers had a 62% lower relative risk of getting diagnosed with anxiety disorders. In Morgan et al. (1988) research the total mood disturbance increased in the ratings of depression, fatigue, and anger during heavily increased training among competitive swimmers. Berger et al. (2016) found relations between normal-distance training sessions and elevated TMD among young competitive swimmers, when after abbreviated training  TMD did not change. Thus, specific subscales showed positive changes for depression, confusion and tension. O’Connor et al. (1989) findings about overtraining and significant increasing of salivary cortisol, which was correlated with depressed mood, are align with the other mentioned studies. The findings suggest that overtraining can decrease TMD and vigor, and increase other subscales of POMS. The positive effects of PA are limited to reasonable amount and intensity of exercise (Peluso et al., 2005).




Berger, B. G., Prapavessis, H., Grove, J. R., & Butki, B. D. (1997). Relationship of Swimming Distance, Expectancy, and Performance to Mood States of Competitive Athletes. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 84(3_suppl), 1199–1210. https://doi.org/10.2466/pms.1997.84.3c.1199 

Cramer, S.R., Nieman, D.C., Lee, J.W. (1991). The effects of moderate exercise training on psychological well-being and mood state in women. J Psychosom Res. 1991;35(4-5):437-49. PMID: 1920175. https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-3999(91)90039-q

Fennell, C., Eremus, T., Puyana, M.G., Sañudo, B. (2022) The Importance of Physical Activity to Augment Mood during COVID-19 Lockdown. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 2022, 19, 1270. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031270

Hansen, C. J., Stevens, L. C., & Coast, J. R. (2001). Exercise duration and mood state: How much is enough to feel better? Health Psychology, 20(4), 267–275. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-6133.20.4.267

Mackenzie, B. (2001) Profile of Mood States (POMS) [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/poms.htm [Accessed 27/2/2023] 

McNair, M., Lorr, M. & Droppleman, L.F.  (1971). Manual for the Profile of Mood States. San Diego, CA: Educational and Industrial Testing Service.

Morgan, W. P., Costill, D. L., Flynn, M. G., Raglin, J. S., & O’Connor, P. J. (1988). Mood disturbance following increased training in swimmers. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 20(4), 408–414. https://doi.org/10.1249/00005768-198808000-00014

O’Connor, P., Morgan, W., Raglin, S., Barksdale, C., Kalin, N. (1989). Mood state and salivary cortisol levels following overtraining in female swimmers. Psych neuroendocrinology. Volume 14, Issue 4. p. 303-310. ISSN 0306-4530. https://doi.org/10.1016/0306-4530(89)90032-2

Peluso, M. & Guerra de Andrade, L. (2005). Physival activity abd mental health: the association between exercise and mood. Clinics,Volume 60, Issue 1, p. 61-70. ISSN 1807-5932. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1807-59322005000100012

Reigal, R.E., Páez-Maldonado, J.A., Pastrana-Brincones, J.L., Morillo-Baro, J.P., Hernández-Mendo, A., Morales-Sánchez, V. (2021). Physical Activity Is Related to Mood States, Anxiety State and Self-Rated Health in COVID-19 Lockdown. Sustainability, 2021, 13, 5444. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13105444

Svensson, M., Brundin, L., Erhardt, S., Hållmarker, U., James, S. & Deierborg T. (2021). Physical Activity Is Associated With Lower Long-Term Incidence of Anxiety in a Population-Based, Large-Scale Study. Front Psychiatry, Volume 12 – 2021 https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.714014

Terry, P. & Lane, A. (2000). Normative values for the profile of mood states for use with athletic samples, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 12:1, 93-109, DOI: 10.1080/10413200008404215 



Physical activity and sleep

Part 2.

Physical activity and sleep 

As we have learnt during the neuroscience course, sleep has many advantages. Doherty et al. (2021) and Malhotra (2018) mention that over the last years, it has been demonstrated the enormous importance of sleep duration and quality on sport and physical activity recovery. Moreover, it is not only beneficial for recovering after exercising, but also for body’s functional recovery (Duss et al., 2017).  

However, the relationship between sleep and physical activity is not unidirectional. Physical activity can influence sleep as well. However, researchers do not agree on ruling which are the benefits of PA on sleep and what type of PA is the most beneficial. 

Kredlow et al., (2015) concluded that acute exercise has small benefits on total sleep time, sleep onset latency and efficiency. Moreover, they stated that regular exercise has small beneficial effects on total sleep time and sleep efficiency, moderate benefits on sleep quality and small-to-medium benefits on sleep onset latency. Wang and Boros (2021) agreed on the fact that PA is beneficial for sleeping, however they concluded that moderate exercise has a more promising outcome on sleep quality than on vigorous exercise and there was not any statement about sleep time. Sullivan et al., (2018, p. 492) did neither found data to relate PA and sleep duration; “on days in which participants took more steps and spent more time active than average, they reported better sleep quality and longer sleep durations”. However, they also stated that sleep quality is more malleable than sleep duration because sleep duration depends on individual’s schedule.  

Lang et al., (2015) researched the relationship between sleep and PA from mid adolescence to early adulthood; “adolescents with higher subjective and objective PA are more likely to experience good sleep subjectively and objectively” (Lang et al., 2015, p. 32). Ghrouz et al (2018) found a significant association of poor sleep quality with anxiety and depression among college students. 

On the other hand, Sullivan et al. (2018) mention than future research should be done focusing on sex differences. They found that PA has benefits on sleep quality and duration, but more significantly on women’s sleep. Moreover, Wang and Boros (2021), Sullivan et al. (2018), Lang et al. (2015) and Kredlow et al., (2015) agreed that future research ought to be done in order to analyze the influence of distinct factors such as age, sex, socioeconomic context, and sleep measuring protocols. Sullivan et al. (2018) suggest that if future research is done, metrics like step counts or daily activity time could be used for predicting sleep quality and sometimes duration as well in middle-age and older adults. 


Stay tuned! Our next post will reveal the exciting results of physical activity we have done for this research in relation to our sleep and mood states records. 



Duss, S. B., Seiler, A., Schmidt, M. H., Pace, M., Adamantidis, A., Müri, R. M. & Bassetti, C. L. The role of sleep in recovery following ischemic stroke: a review of human and animal data. Neurobiology of sleep and circadian rhythms, 2, 94-105. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nbscr.2016.11.003

Doherty, R., Madigan, S. M., Nevill, A., Warrington, G. and Ellis, J. G. The sleep and recovery practices of athletes. Nutrients, 13, 1-25. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13041330  

Ghrouz, A.K., Noohu, M.M., Dilshad Manzar, M. et al. (2019). Physical activity and sleep quality in relation to mental health among college students. Sleep Breath 23, 627–634. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11325-019-01780-z 

Kredlow, M. A., Capozzoli, M. C., Hearon, B. A., Calkins, A. W. and Otto, M. W. (2015). The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 38(3), 427-449. DOI 10.1007/s10865-015-9617-6 

Lang, C., Kalak, N., Brand, S., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., Pühse, U. and Gerber, M. The relationship between physical activity and sleep from mid adolescence to early adulthood. A systematic review of methodological approaches and meta-analysis. Sleep Mecidine Reviews, 28, 32-45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2015.07.004  

Malhotra, R. (2017). Sleep, recovery and performance in sports. Neurologic Clinics, 35(3), 547-557. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ncl.2017.03.002  

Sullivan, A. N., Robinson, S. A. and Lachman, M. E. (2019). Walk to a better night of sleep: testing the relationship between physical activity and sleep. Sleep Health, 5, 487-494. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2019.06.003

Wang, F. and Boros, S. (2021). The effect of physical activity on sleep quality: a systematic review. European Journal of Physiotherapy, 23(1), 11-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/21679169.2019.1623314  

Physical activity and mental health

Before starting to test the effect of PA on our mood states and the relationship between PA and sleep, information based on scientific research is going to be summarized. 


Part 1.

Physical activity and mental health 

Many have started to be interested in PA activity during COVID-19 due to the amount of inactivity. However, concepts such as sport, exercise or physical activity are sometimes misunderstood. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines physical activity as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Physical activity refers to all movement including during leisure time, for transport to get to and from places, or as part of a person’s work” (2022, p.1). 

As Castañeda-Babarro et al. (2020) and Woods et al. (2020) state, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the amount of physical activity decreased. This lack of physical activity can increase the risk of damage to the brain and immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal systems (Woods et al., 2020), and also to our mental health stability. As Ai et al. (2021) mentioned, practicing physical activity during Covid-19 enhanced happiness, improve mental health, and reduced anxiety, sadness, and depression. 

Moreover, one of the professions most affected by Covid-19 and its consequences was teaching. Consequently, teachers suffered elevated levels of distress and their mental health levels decreased vastly (Aperribai, 2020). Physical activity has been recommended to prevent consequences for mental health in future similar situations.  

However, the mental health benefits of physical activity are not limited to Covid-19. WHO (2022) states that physical activity is beneficial for the mind, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and improves individual’s overall well-being. Moreover, regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing depression and anxiety, both acute and chronic, also among people who have depressive or anxiety symptoms but no clinical depression (Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, 2018). Schuch, F. et al (2019) found out that higher physical activity can reduce the risk of developing anxiety and protect from agoraphobia and post-traumatic disorder. 

Ashley (2018) showed that thanks to physical activity, mental health wellness increases among people that are inactive. Hence, PA is not only beneficial for individuals that are used to exercise. Furthermore, it can be especially beneficial for teenagers because they are developing their sense of identity, and independence and transitioning into adulthood. They suffer a lot of pressure and PA has been shown as an effective method to decrease the potential risk of having mental health deficits (Beauchamp, 2018). 

Taking into consideration the mental and emotional benefits mentioned before and the vastly known physical benefits of PA, WHO and some European countries, including Finland, have enlisted some recommendations: 

WHO (2022)

Adults (18-64 years)

  • Should do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week
  • Should also do muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits.
  • May increase moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to more than 300 minutes (about 5 hours); or do more than 150 minutes (about 2 and a half hours) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week for additional health benefits.
  • Should limit the amount of time spent being sedentary. Replacing sedentary time with physical activity of any intensity (including light intensity) provides health benefits, and
  • To help reduce the detrimental effects of high levels of sedentary behaviour on health, all adults and older adults should aim to do more than the recommended levels of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity

Kahlmeier, S. et al. (2015) compared the national PA recommendations of 37 European countries. Even if 21 countries have national recommendations, most of them are not updated and do not meet WHO’s requirements. Thus, public and governmental awareness is still needed. 


Part 2. 



Ai, X., Yang, J., Lin, Z., Wan, X. (2021). Mental Health and the Role of Physical Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.759987 

Aperribai, L., Cortabarria, L., Aguirre, T., Verche, E., Borges, A. (2020). Teachers’ Physical Activity and Mental Health During Lockdown Due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.577886 

Ashley, M. (2018). The relationship between physical inactivity and mental wellbeing: Findings from a gamification-based community wide physical activity intervention. Health Psychology Open, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1177/2055102917753853 

Beauchamp, M.R. (2018). Physical Inactivity and Mental Health in Late Adolescence. American Medical Association, 75(6), 543-544.

Castañeda-Babarro, A., Arbillaga-Etxarri, A., Gutiérrez-Santamaría, B. & Coca, A. (2020). Physical Activity Change during COVID-19 Confinement. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17, 1-10. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186878 

Kahlmeier, S., Wijnhoven, T. M. A., Alpiger, P., Schweizer, C., Breda, J. and Martin, B. W. (2015). National physical activity recommendations: systematic overview and analysis of the situation in European countries. BMC Public Health, 15(133), 1-14. DOI 10.1186/s12889-015-1412-3 

Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2018. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/PAG_Advisory_Committee_Report.pdf

Schuch, F., Stubbs, B., Meyer, J., Heissel, A., Zech, P., Vancampfort, D., et al. (2019). Physical activity protects from incident anxiety: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Depression and Anxiety, 36(9):846–58. DOI:10.1002/da.22915  

Woods, J., Hutchinson, N. T., Powers, S.K.; Roberts, W. O., Gomez-Cabrera, M.C.; Radak, Z.; Berkes, I., Boros, A., Boldogh, I., Leeuwenburgh, C., Coelho-Junior, H. J., Marzetti, E., Cheng, Y.; Liu, J., Durstine, J.L., Sun, J., Li Li J. (2020). The COVID-19 Pandemic and Physical Activity. Sports Medicine and Health Science, 55-64.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smhs.2020.05.006 

World Health Organization. (2022). Physical Activity. World Health Organization. https://acortar.link/Dok7sK  



Hi! We are three students from the University of Helsinki. We are studying for a Master’s in Changing Education and Class Teaching. This blog is an outcome from the course Neuroscience in Educational Sciences.  

We were excited to research physical activity (PA) in relation to emotions and sleep. After getting into the topic via exploring previous research, we got motivated and mastered an idea: analyzing ourselves and our lifestyles!  

In this outreach task, we used Oura rings and FirstBeat to measure our PA, stress levels (HRV) and sleep quality. Also, Profile of Mood States -questionnaire was used to estimate emotions before and after workout.  

But, before showing the scientific information and our results, we are going to introduce ourselves: 

Hi! I am Beñat! I have played football since I was a child and have been working as a football coach as well as participating as a coordinator in different sports competitions. Moreover, I have a bachelor’s degree in Physical Activity and Sport Science, hence both my personal and academic background have a strong relationship with physical activity and sports. Since I have been living in Helsinki, my lifestyle has slowed down and I am more sedentary. In order to avoid the negative (physical and mental) consequences of it, I try to practice physical activity at least 4 times a week. Training and practicing sports help me to disconnect and I feel more energetic after practicing them. 

Hey, I am Laura! I was born in Finland, but I have lived most of my adulthood abroad, in India and England (you folks have no idea how hard it is to learn to drive on the RIGHT side of the road again :D). I have worked as a class teacher for six years and am a mother to a 10-year-old girl. Time for hobbies is and has been limited, but I enjoy dancing and games whenever I can! My workout routine is unstable, yet my lifestyle is active. Even hectic, one would say! I tend to climb, swim, run, do yoga or pilates on a weekly basis. My ADHD superpower gives me energy and spontaneity, but equally makes routine hard to maintain. During this experiment I paused my ADHD medication.  I got extremely excited to do this research on myself! I have never studied my physical states, I do not even own scales! This research has opened my eyes and I cannot wait to share my findings with you! 

Hi! I am Satu! I have a competitive swimming background and Ive been teaching swimming for various age groups last 15 years. I am working as an HR service professional, also coaching young triathletes in swimming. I did my bachelor’s degree in early education including sport pedagogy as a minor subject. My weekly schedule is usually very full, and sometimes it is challenging to balance work, studies and leisure time. Lately I have been interested in exploring how PA affects my learning outcomes and overall well-being. Like Beñat, I am trying to practice moderate to vigorous and vigorous PA, usually swimming or gym, at least 4 times a week. The outcomes of this outreach task opened my eyes. Stay tuned!