Exercise is often thought of as a way to improve physical health, but it also has a number of benefits for mental health. Exercise can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and it can also improve mood, sleep, and cognitive function.
Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health:
- Reduces stress: Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. It can also help to distract from stressful thoughts and feelings.
- Reduces anxiety: Exercise can help to regulate the body’s stress response. It can also help to improve sleep, which is often disrupted by anxiety.
- Improves mood: Exercise can help to improve mood by increasing levels of dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters that are associated with happiness.
- Improves sleep: Exercise can help to improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
- Improves cognitive function: Exercise can help to improve cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain.
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. In addition, adults should do strength-training exercises that work all major muscle groups on two or more days a week.
Types of Exercise:
There are many different types of exercise that can benefit mental health. Some examples include:
- Aerobic exercise: Aerobic exercise, such as running, biking, swimming, or dancing, can help to improve mood and reduce stress.
- Strength-training exercise: Strength-training exercise can help to improve mood and self-esteem.
- Yoga and tai chi: Yoga and tai chi are mind-body exercises that can help to reduce stress and improve focus.
- Outdoor activities: Spending time in nature can help to reduce stress and improve mood.
Exercise is a great way to improve overall health and well-being, including mental health. Even a small amount of exercise can make a difference. If you are not used to exercising, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you spend exercising each week.