Exercise is Good for Your Mental Health
We know that physical activity is important to improving physical health, but did you know that physical activity is also key in improving mental health? Today’s teens are experiencing heightened anxiety and more stress than some adults today (cite). In a world where digital devices keep social pressures constantly in their back pockets, and academic institutions are asking more and more of our young people, exercise might be their best defense against stress and anxiety.
The mental benefits of exercise has a neurochemical effect on our brains that helps reduce stress, anxiety, and fight depression. Exercise causes the release of feel good hormones called endorphins. Couples with its ability to reduce levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, exercise does some amazing things for our mood1.
Research has shown that exercise may help not only to reduce anxiety, but to prevent it2. Further studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing3.
So, how much exercise is needed? It turns out even 5 minutes can make a difference. Everyone should be getting at least 30 mins of moderate exercise a day to see the mental health benefits. This 30 mins can be broken up into 10-15 min segments. Walking to and from school regularly, could be enough to help teens experience the benefits of exercise on their mental health4.
Desirea Agar is a health promotion coordinator at Medicine Hat Community Health Services and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org