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How does exercise benefit mental health?

Exercise benefits mental health by reducing stress, improving mood, increasing self-esteem, enhancing cognitive function, and promoting better sleep.

What types of exercise are best for mental health?

Any form of physical activity can benefit mental health, including aerobic exercises (e.g., walking, running, swimming), strength training, yoga, and team sports.

How much exercise is recommended for mental health benefits?

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, spread across at least three days per week, for mental health benefits.

Can exercise help with anxiety and depression?

Yes, exercise can help with anxiety and depression by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood elevators, and by providing a healthy coping mechanism for stress and negative emotions.

What is the role of endorphins in exercise and mental health?

Endorphins are natural chemicals released in the brain during exercise that can help improve mood, reduce stress, and alleviate pain, contributing to better mental health.

How does exercise help improve sleep and mental health?

Exercise can help improve sleep by promoting relaxation, regulating the body's internal clock, and increasing the amount of time spent in deep sleep, which can contribute to better mental health.

Can exercise help improve cognitive function and memory?

Yes, exercise can help improve cognitive function and memory by increasing blood flow to the brain, promoting the growth of new brain cells, and enhancing the connections between brain cells.

How can I stay motivated to exercise for mental health?

To stay motivated, set realistic goals, choose activities you enjoy, establish a routine, track your progress, and seek social support from friends, family, or exercise groups.

Are there any precautions to take when exercising for mental health?

Begin with moderate-intensity exercise and gradually increase intensity and duration. Consult a healthcare professional if you have any medical concerns or if you're starting a new exercise program. Remember to listen to your body and avoid overexertion.

When should I seek professional help for mental health concerns?

Consider seeking professional help for mental health concerns if they are causing significant distress or interfering with daily functioning, or if self-help techniques, including exercise, are not providing adequate relief.

About the Author

Randi Owsley

Randi Owsley, LMSW is a Licensed Master of Social Worker and clinical psychotherapist and co-host of the podcast Unapologetically Randi and Jess. She has her Masters of Clinical Social Work from the University of Southern California. She specializes in Women's Mental Health Issues, Trauma, Grief and Personality Disorders. You can find more information about her at and

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Exercising For Mental Health