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As most people know, exercise is great for your body. It can improve physical health, tone your physique, and provide protection against many health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes. But how often do you consider the mental health benefits of physical exercise? It has been shown to reduce stress and ease the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It can also help increase focus, enhance memory, improve sleep, and boost your overall mood.
Exercise is a great tool for a mental health boost for a number of reasons. Firstly, exercise releases proteins called “endorphins” that bind opioid receptors, reduce pain and boost pleasure. This creates relaxed and positive feelings that give people a sense of well-being. Exercise also stimulates the brain by increasing oxygenation, promoting the growth of neurons, and allowing for increased neuronal connections.
Getting the mental health boost that comes from exercising doesn’t mean you need to sweat for hours at the gym or run mile after mile every day. Research shows that modest amounts of exercise – no matter your age or fitness level – can make a difference in your mental health. Thirty minutes of moderate activity five times a week is all you need to get a mental health boost. The 30 minutes can also be broken up in two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute workouts.
There is no need to force yourself into long, monotonous workouts to get the benefits of exercising. Playing a sport for fun, taking a dance class, or walking around your neighborhood can work just as well. Even a few minutes of physical activity per day is better for your mental and physical health than none!