Exercise is a critical part of overall good health. Not only is it good for lowering your risk of obesity and other diseases but it also helps clear your mind. Adults should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate activity a week and children should do one hour or more daily! Don’t think you have time? Try adding these easy steps to your daily routine:

  • Take stairs (up and down!)
  • Walk a lap of the store before shopping
  • Park in the furthest parking spot or get off/on the train a stop early
  • March in place or do sit ups during commercial breaks or while on the phone
  • Do squats or leg lifts while brushing your teeth
  • Get a dog!

Have more time?

  • Dance 
  • Run or walk
  • Jump rope
  • Do Yoga

Every little bit helps. Just find what moves you and do it!

Not convinced yet? Let’s take a closer look at the benefits.

Exercise has the ability to improve self-esteem

A study from the Journal of American College Health involving college students, found a significant inverse relationship between exercise and self-esteem, and experiencing depression. Using a self-esteem scale, a social connectedness scale, and an epidemiological studies depression scale, the researchers revealed supporting evidence that people who are physically active are three times less likely to suffer from depression. Individuals’ depressive symptoms also lessened as physical activity increased overtime.

Exercise is a natural stress reducer

In a study by the Journal of Neurotransmission of individuals 15 years of age or older, found that acute bouts of exercise was anxiolytic, or able to reduce anxiety which suggested that, by gradually introducing exercise in healthy individuals, the body could build a resistance to stress related emotions.

Exercise may have similar effects as medication

One review paper by the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests that exercise can improve individuals’ current sensitivity to anxiety and lessen the effects of stressors yet to occur. They suggest that when you add regular exercise into your life, the body becomes less apt to panic during fight or flight situations.

Exercise fights illness

Many health care professionals agree that exercise is one of the best preventative drugs around. So how does this work? According to research from MedlinePlus, when you exercise, your circulatory system revs up and has a better chance at detecting any pathogens. This temporary climb in internal body temperature may prevent bacteria from growing inside. Exercising also slows down the release of stress related hormones. And stress is a gateway to experiencing illness. To lessen your susceptibility to illness using exercise, remember to limit prolonged sedentary, or sitting, behaviors altogether, and design an all-encompassing fitness routine. This means some strength training, some flexibility training, and lots of cardio. See the specific exercise guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine here.

There is still much to learn about the connection between exercise, psychology and mental health. But the current results are promising. Regular exercise has been shown to improve selective attention and enhance memory. You can’t alter your genetics but if you are able and willing, you can get up and exercise!