Mental Health and Exercise

Posted On May 9, 2023 By Lisa Traugott

woman on an exercise bike

Feeling stressed? Anxiety and depression are common issues we face, but increasing numbers of studies demonstrate even moderate amounts of exercise will improve your mental health.

In a large study in the UK with 152,978 participants, researchers found a link between physical fitness and their mental health seven years later. Participants who were out of shape had 98% higher odds of experiencing depression and 60% higher odds of experiencing anxiety.

Why does exercise improve your mental health? According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise releases feel-good endorphins that can make you feel better, and exercise also disrupts your negative thoughts and helps you take your mind off your worries. They note doing as little as 10 to 15 minutes of exercise at a time may make a difference too.

Exercise apps like JRNY have customized workouts in 5, 10, 15+ minute blocks to fit anyone’s busy schedule. You can pick yoga stretches, kettlebell strength training, bodyweight routines and dumbbell and barbell workouts for specific muscle regions.

A man using dumbbells.

Is exercise only beneficial if you participate at high intensity levels? More good news! A 2018 study in The Lancet Psychiatry analyzed the responses of 1.2 million adults who participated in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey. They found that moderate exercise decreased the number of poor mental health days by more than 40%.

You can sneak exercise into your busy schedule multiple ways:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park at the back of the lot to take a longer walk into the store.
  • Walk before breakfast either outside or on an elliptical machine or treadmill.
  • Exercise during commercial breaks. Try doing jumping jacks, push-ups, or sit-ups.
  • Get a workout done while waiting in long lines. When my kids were little, I’d put them on my back and do the lunges. My legs toned up and they loved the attention. You can also do calf raises and squats (with or without a kid).

Exercise is an easy way to improve your mood, decrease stress and boost your mental health. In as little as 15 minutes a day you can help both your body and mind feel better. Now that’s a win-win.