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Physical Activity and Mental Health

April 28, 2016 by HealthyFamiliesBC

Exercise promotes mental wellbeing and reduces symptoms of mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression.

Researchers today are asking a lot of questions about physical activity and mental health and wellbeing. Does regular physical activity contribute to mental wellbeing? Can it help with reducing anxiety or depression? Here is what we know:

  • Physical activity improves emotions and mood, quality of life, self-esteem and cognitive functioning.
  • Physical activity reduces anxiety, depression and stress.
  • Aerobic activities (power walking, swimming, tennis, etc.) are effective: try 30 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-paced activity three-five days a week.
  • Endorphins (chemicals released by your body) can uplift your mood making you feel happier. This concept is similar to the so called “runners-high”.
  • A regular workout schedule can give you routine and consistency in your day-to-day life. The health benefits of physical activity are best when it’s a regular thing. Plus the routine can help you feel more accomplished.
  • Being active helps you connect with others; be it going to an exercise class where you meet other likeminded people, or meeting up with your friend (could be a canine one too!) for a brisk walk. Being connected will support and enrich you every day.
  • Finishing a physical activity gives you a feeling of self-accomplishment. You can rest assured that you just did something that benefits your physical and mental well-being.

Depression and anxiety are serious conditions. See your doctor if you are facing mental health challenges. Visit Here to Help for support.

You may have heard that more and more doctors are starting to prescribe exercise as medicine. For good reason! Along with mental health benefits, physical activity can help with many chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and osteoporosis.

If you are worried or anxious about going to the gym consider going with a friend, going at less busy times, or reading up on the exercise you want to try beforehand. There are often barriers to being active. The Physical Activity Line is a free resource you can call (8-1-1) to help you overcome challenges.

Related blogs

Why Exercise Makes You Feel Good
Changing Physical Activity Habits

Recommended resources

Kelty Mental Health: Physical Activity
Anxiety BC: Exercise



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