Can a few minutes of exercise each day improve our mental as well as physical health?
We already know that exercise can bring on a cascade of health benefits from improved breathing to stronger bones to better sleep. Even a few minutes of exercise each day (doctors recommend a minimum of 20 minutes, three times a week) can lower our risk of health issues like type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease, and may even reduce the minor inflammations throughout our bodies that exacerbate existing disease conditions leaving us vulnerable to colds and infections. Exercise can even improve oxygen circulation and strengthen our hearts, which can reduce our lifetime chances of heart disease.
But can a few minutes of exercise each day actually improve our mental as well as physical health? And can it improve our memory and make us more organized and efficient thinkers?
Exercise for Mental Health
Studies are beginning to suggest that the mental health benefits of exercise are two-fold. First, and less subject to speculation, exercise can improve our overall sense of well-being. Researchers aren’t exactly sure of the mechanics behind this effect, but physical activity tends to release endorphins that flood us with feelings of calm and actually helps reduce our sensations of both physical and emotional pain. Athletes, runners, and those who work out regularly have known this for many years. Science now proves what’s long been suggested by common sense.
As a second benefit, some less established research is beginning to suggest that regular exercise may have very specific cognitive benefits as well. At the very least, exercise seems to slow the deleterious effects of aging and other negative health conditions. Consider this the next time you have to choose between the couch and the treadmill.
If you’ve experienced some of the mental health benefits of a regular workout routine, share your thoughts and stories in our comment section below!