If you’re looking for a reason to return to your fitness routine, consider doing it for your mental health. Several researchers suggest exercise as a necessary function to maintain optimal mental health—while also reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
In 1992, The World Health Organization named October 10 World Mental Health Day. Over the last two-and-a-half decades, it has supported causes and coalitions that bring awareness to and reduces stigma around mental health.
How does exercise effect mental health?
Researchers have found a strong link between exercise and depression. In an article submitted to the America Journal of Psychiatry, experts evaluated over 33,000 participants that had no prior record of depression or anxiety disorders. The experts found that as little as one hour of physical exercise a week can prevent new cases of depression. In a similar article published in Journal of Psychiatric Practice, experts found that it takes between four to six weeks of continuous exercise to see a decline in depressive symptoms. And between ten and 12 weeks, you’ll see the best impact on brain health.
But the effects are not the same for everyone. In a study submitted to Health Psychology Open, One European researcher argues the effects of exercise on mental health depends on the individuals lifestyle. Participants with less active lifestyles benefit the most from exercise, as opposed to more active individuals.
Regardless of your current lifestyle, maintaining an exercise routine is critical for optimal health. In fact, scientist have found that your brain releases feel-good chemicals (such as endorphins) when you exercise that can help you cope pain, and improve your mood. To help get you started, we’ve listed some simple exercise to try.