Exercise’s Effect on Mental Health

The connection between the mind and body is a two-way street – the brain sends signals to our body to function, but we can use our body to send signals back and influence how our brain operates. Studies have shown regular exercise has a profoundly positive impact on mental health, treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety as effectively as medication, improving memory and sleep, and boosting overall mood.

Physical activity produces biological and psychological effects. When we exercise, we release endorphins, our body’s natural pain reliever. Endorphins block the signal to our brain that tells our body we are in pain which can relieve the symptoms of stress, and in turn, reduce anxiety as well. Not only does exercising reduce muscle tension, physically subsiding symptoms of anxiety, it has psychological effects by increasing confidence.

Exercising doesn’t have to be daunting, studies show that even modest exercise, like walking, can make a real difference. Recent research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. Sustaining a consistent exercise regimen can build up your body’s defenses over time to help prevent a relapse.

Exercise can be made even easier by giving your body better fuel from a well-balanced diet. Nutrients such as Vitamin A, C & E, and minerals such as magnesium and potassium – all found in watercress – play a role in preserving the integrity of the immune system, muscle contraction, and strength. The hardest part is getting started, but you can set your body and brain up for success.

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Author: Hailey Dolan is a marketing and communications professional with a passion for storytelling.


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