Body & Fitness

Mood movers

Physical activity can improve how you feel. Doctors have known for a long time that exercising regularly can lift your spirits and help with general mental well-being. Now research suggests physical activity can also help if you are suffering from a mental illness like depression. If you’re concerned about your mental health, or just want to improve your moods, read on:

oental health and physical activity Heard the expression “runner’s high”? This feeling of euphoria after exercising is thanks to chemicals called endorphins. These are the body’s natural painkillers, which are released into your bloodstream during and after exercise, leading to that “feelgood” sensation runners talk about.

You don’t have to run a marathon for endorphins to kick in. You should notice feeling better after doing moderate activity such as walking, swimming or dancing. Doing just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week can improve your mood and decrease anxiety and stress.

Regular physical activity may also help prevent serious mental illnesses such as depression, according to the oental Health Foundation of New Zealand. CEo Judi Clements says that physical activity is is not only a good short-term stress reliever but it can also help people to avoid the sometimes devastating consequences that occur when stress builds up long-term. “Prolonged stress can lead to illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders, so anything that helps keep stress levels down is good.”

What should I do? The most important thing is to do some kind of activity you enjoy. Studies into the link between depression and exercise found that people benefited most from aerobic activity, such as brisk walking. You could also try:

  • Jogging

  • Running

  • Cycling

  • Swimming

  • Tennis

  • Dancing

  • Gym workouts

  • Aerobics

  • Playing team sports

If this kind of exercise sounds too hard

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