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How to Improve Mental Health with Exercise

You might think exercise just helps your physical body and appearance. While exercise does help you physically, it can also help you mentally, even improving your overall mental health. Extra activity benefits your mind because exercise and mental health are closely linked. Exercise has been known to have positive effects on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It can also lower stress and improve your mood overall. And no matter your age or level of activity, you can use exercise to benefit your mental health. Read on to learn about the benefits of exercise and how to improve mental health with regular exercise. 

The Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

Exercise and depression are closely linked. Regular exercise reduces inflammation and increases neural growth, and that can help with depression. Research has shown that exercise can decrease depression, sometimes even as much as antidepressants can. So by implementing a fifteen-minute run or an hour walk, you can help decrease your depression and start improving your mental health.  

Exercise and anxiety are also linked. Exercise can relieve tension and boost energy while releasing extra endorphins. All of these physical reactions help decrease anxiety. And studies have shown that regular exercise can decrease anxiety as much as it can decrease depression. Exercising for anxiety can be more beneficial if you take the time to focus on the exercise at hand. Focusing will help you relax and take your mind off those causing you extra anxiety. 

Research has also shown that exercise can lower your overall stress levels. Stress can lead to mental health problems and also cause tension, gastrointestinal problems, and insomnia, all of which can be helped with exercise. Exercise helps lower physical tension as you move and improve the quality of sleep at night. As your physical health improves, your mental health will too. 

How Much to Exercise to Improve Mental Health

Since exercise and mental health are so closely tied, any type of exercise can help you improve your mental health. You can improve your mental health with any exercise that you feel motivated to do. A study has found that team sports can lower mental health problems by up to 22%, cycling and other gym activities can by 20%, and walking can by 17%. So whatever exercise you enjoy, you can use it to help improve your mental health. The important thing is that you exercise and feel good. 

As counterintuitive as it sounds, more exercise isn’t necessarily the best way to improve your mental health. The same study shows that just 30 to 60 minutes of exercise for three to five days a week is all you need to get the benefits of exercise for depression, anxiety, or stress. In fact, 45 minutes is considered just right. So you don’t need to worry about training for a marathon or an Iron Man to help your mental health. Even a little bit can help. Start where you are, and see the benefits in your mental health. 

The Bottom Line

Exercise can improve your mental health and help reduce the number of days you experience severe mental burdens thanks to the benefits of exercise and mental health. But when exercise and mental health strategies don’t seem to be helping at all, seek support and professional care.

If you are currently meeting with a counselor for a mental disorder, make sure to continue sessions even while exercising. Clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems need additional care from professionals. If you or a loved one are suffering from mental health burdens, learn more about the mental health services at The Phoenix.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT