The Effects of Movement On Your Mood

Written by: Manny Vera, Health Fitness Specialist

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It is no secret that movement has a positive impact to our health. It is significant enough that big organizations such as the American College Of Sports Medicine, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, American Heart Association have physical activity recommendations for the average healthy adult. These guidelines indicate that all adults should partake in a weekly minimum aerobic activity of either 150 minutes moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity. It also includes at least 2 days of total body strengthening activities or exercises. What is often looked over is the effects of exercise on mental health and mood in individuals. There is a positive correlation of exercise to improved mood and mental health.

There are many people who struggle with mental illnesses and it is valuable to look at the studies done to get a better scope of the effects of exercise on mood. Mental illness is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that can vary from mild to severe. There are certain populations who are at a higher risk of poor mental health and lower physical activity such as pregnant woman, cancer patients, inmates, and substance users. Exercise has been shown to positively improve mood, quality of life, and overall mental health with even simple acts such as walking a few extra blocks, short stretch sessions throughout the day, or short bursts of body weight exercises. Intensity does not significantly lower the mental health effects as the body will release endorphins which makes you feel good and may help regulate other hormones. Studies have shown physical activity to reduce depression and anxiety.

So what if you just want to improve your daily quality of life or just get out of a funk that life has thrown at you? Is there still health benefits under those circumstances? The answer is yes there is! You have a whole world of activity to explore such as jogging, swimming, cycling, gardening, lifting weights, sports, dancing, & the list goes on. How do we incorporate this into our busy lives? Well as the research shows you don’t need much time, you can accumulate short bursts throughout the day to total up to your weekly minimums. You can easily add more activity when life allows and you want to improve your health. Some strategies to increase daily movement can include dedicating time slots to walking and exercise, incorporating movement into your daily routines such as walking during phone calls or brushing your teeth. Practices such as yoga are valuable as they can strengthen your connection to your brain for improved memory and awareness. Whatever you choose to do consider inviting friends and family as support has been shown to be an important factor in retaining a habit.

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