If one, single session of aerobic exercise between 25 and 60 minutes in duration can help alleviate depression, imagine what multiple sessions exercise to boost mental health and a consistent training program can do for your mood.
How Does Exercise Boost Mental Health?
Aerobic exercise benefits your body physically by helping you lose or maintain your weight, improving your cardiovascular system and controlling blood sugar and blood pressure levels. These types of exercise also have the most effect on your psychological well-being. When you perform aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, rowing, stair climbing, using an elliptical machine or taking a group exercise class, your mental health improves. You may have felt the stress-reducing benefits when you stop at the gym on your way home from a tough day at work. As you get into your car for the drive home after a workout, you feel relaxed and happier. Plus, over time after consistent workouts, you are better able to handle stressful situations. It’s as if the stress-proofing benefits add up into a unique barrier of peace. The IDEA Health and Fitness Association recommend an aerobic workout that lasts longer than 20 minutes on at least three days a week. You receive the most benefits if you keep this schedule for three months in a row.
If you or a loved one suffer from depression or sadness, try exercise in conjunction with your mental health treatment. In this case, the type of exercise was not particular. In other words, you can perform aerobic workouts or strength-training sessions to help lift your depression. Although you may feel the benefits after one workout, you will experience the most benefits if you exercise on a regular basis for 17 weeks. After four weeks, you should feel a noticeable improvement which will hopefully keep you motivated to continue your workouts.
Your mental health requires that you are free of anxiety. Anxiety can be debilitating if it is extreme and your worries may cause your family alarm. To combat general anxiety, turn to aerobic exercise. When you feel anxious, even five minutes of movement can help reduce your feelings and worries. For the biggest benefit, seek to exercise at a comfortable workout intensity, three days a week for up to 60 minutes. Expect to feel less anxious after maintaining your workout routine for 10 to 15 weeks.
You may understand that exercise improves your mental health, but still want to know how. According to The Mayo Clinic, exercise releases endorphins which are the feel-good hormones. These along with neurotransmitters and endocannabinoids work together to improve the way you feel and help you overcome depression. Exercise also reduces immune system chemicals which can contribute to worsening depressive symptoms. On another level, your body temperature increases during exercise, which helps calm your body and your mind.
The next time you feel stressed, anxious or depressed, put on your walking shoes or head to the gym to kick those feelings to the curb. In less than an hour, your mood improves and you can return to your life feeling confident, prepared and in control.