Important Connections Between Exercise & Mental Health

Writing over at Missouri Partners in Prevention about the connection between exercise and our mental/emotional health! See below for a preview or link to the full article here.

June is a fantastic month. It is the host to many weddings, outdoor events, and summer nights before things get too sweltering in July and August. For this reason, June is also a great month to talk about exercise. Given how comfortable it is outside, maybe we’ll all get a few more steps in!

The connection between mental health and exercise is long-established and personally experienced by so many who “just feel better” when they have gotten outside, to the gym, or even a video or yoga session in their own home. But how much exercise makes a difference? What kind of exercise do we need? How exactly does it affect our mental health in a positive way? We will explore these questions today.

How Much Exercise Improves Our Mental Health?

Many people are keen to improve their mental health, but they want to know exactly how much exercise is supposed to make a difference. In a recent comparison of fifteen studies, the researchers concluded it is often not as much as you might think.

For adults, the public health recommendation for exercise is at least 2 hours and 30 minutes to 5 hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise or just over an hour to 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise ( However, it is important to note that even accomplishing the lower end of that recommendation was connected to a lower risk of depression than those who did not exercise. In fact, not moving at all was associated with an increased risk of depression of 18-25%. The recommendation for beginning an exercise routine is to begin with five or ten-minute walks.

Woman outside kneeling down on one knee and tying the shoelaces on a tennis shoe

What Kind of Exercise Improves Our Mental Health?

As offered above, several hours of moderate-intensity or around an hour or two of more intense aerobic exercise has been connected to a lower risk of depression. But, are there other kinds of exercise that can improve our mental health? Any exercise can have benefits but yoga, often paired with meditation practices, are a frequent recommendation for people suffering from mental health concerns. No matter what type of exercise someone chooses (cardiovascular, strength training, balance, or flexibility) there are benefits to movement of any kind and pursuing activities we enjoy.

Man who uses a wheelchair playing basketball

How Does Exercise Improve Our Mental Health?

To finish the full post and see the answer to the above question, link here.

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