It’s well known that exercise is good for mood as it releases feel good endorphins. The latest research, however, goes a lot further and claims that exercise is better for our mental health than even medication or counselling. It found that exercise can help alleviate anxiety, depression and stress. And that the benefits should be seen within 12 weeks.
There is now a call for doctors to prescribe exercise before anything else
This really is quite amazing. The meta-analysis and systematic reviews (97 of them) also showed that the amount of exercise you do, determines the result.
How much exercise should you do?
Most health practitioners recommend doing 150 to 300 minutes a week of exercise of a moderate intensity OR 75 to 150 minutes of a vigorous intensity.
When you think about it, it’s not that much. If you do a walk (moderate intensity) of just 30 minutes, 5 days a week, that would be 150 minutes.
I myself, do a mixture of moderate and vigorous. I often will go for a 30 minute dog walk and that will be it and on other days I might do weight training or maybe cardio. These days I don’t work out for as long as I once did and often just do 30 minutes. I don’t seem to have as much time as I used to but that’s ok. What’s important is that I exercise consistently.
A 30 minute walk is perfectly acceptable
However, it’s good to know that exceeding the recommended amount of exercise will give even more benefit in other ways. Your risk of death, for example, will lower with greater amounts of exercise.
Exercise has a big impact on longevity
As we age, weight training and maintaining muscle mass becomes increasingly important. Your muscle mass is crucial for so many things like strength, prevention of injury and falling over, metabolism and obesity. It also helps address things like heart disease and dementia.
The greater your muscle mass, the greater your survivability against all disease
Your own body weight (push ups, for example, which can also be done on your knees or standing against a wall) will also help maintain or improve muscle mass. Yoga is a great exercise as well for using your own body weight.
And all of these things will help support mental health. The more you do, the better you will feel. The good news is that it’s never too late to start. No matter your age and no matter if you have never worked out in your life, you can start today and will most definitely reap the benefits.
If this is the case, I always recommend by starting with some gentle walking. You definitely do not want to start by attempting to jog.
Walking is one of the best exercises there is
It’s gentle on the joints and walking in nature will improve your mood even further and even boost your immune system.
Exercise, as I’ve always said, truly is the closest thing there is to an ant-ageing pill. However, I don’t like the term anti-ageing anymore, as ageing is actually what we all want. The alternative is definitely not what we want. It’s about pro-ageing and what’s really important is HOW we age. Exercise is key when it comes to that, both physically and mentally.
So well said! I did a study at Yale University (they were running the study) on exactly the same thesis that exercise combats depression even better than medication and some people for their body chemistries must exercise to ward off depression. It’s as important as food and water!