The link between exercise and mental health wellbeing has long been established. Regular physical activities help you control your weight, enhance your strength and endurance and promote cardiovascular health, as well as stave off mild to moderate depression.
The fact that exercise can boost endorphins, hormones that are produced by your body to relieve stress and pain, is well documented. It is not necessary to immediately commit yourself fully to a fitness-focused lifestyle. At least 15 minutes of higher intensity exercise a day can help ward off depression, while walking an hour a day can provide the same benefit.
You can treat ‘milder’ forms of exercise as a stepping stone to help motivate yourself: Stretching in the morning, taking the stairs or going for a walk around the neighbourhood.
According to a 2019 study conducted at Harvard’s T.H Chan School of Public Health, there is a “26% decrease in odds for becoming depressed for each major increase in objectively measured physical activity”. The study points out that regular physical activity can help prevent mild depression from progressing to a severe one, pointing out that exercise is considered the nondrug approach to a positive state of mind.
Exercise is an investment of both time and effort, and the more you choose to invest, the greater the returns you will yield. While one session of rigorous exercise can be invigorating, engaging in physical activities such as aerobic exercises at least 3 times a week can have very impactful long-term benefits on mental health.