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The Link Between Exercise and Mental Health

By Kitty Chao.

A lot of us know from our own experience that we feel better after we exercise. Experts think that

exercise is changing our levels of endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins can lift your mood while
serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can regulate mood, appetite, digestion, memory and sleep. That
said, even though most people agree that exercise does improve mood, there is still a debate about
precisely how this happens.

Benefits for your mental health

  • Increase in your self-esteem as you are taking control of your wellbeing
  • Exercising can put you amongst other people, reducing loneliness and social isolation
  • Healthy distraction to break a cycle of negative worries and thoughts
There is limited research to guide how much and what sort of exercise to do. But both aerobic exercise and resistance exercise may be effective. (Aerobic exercise gets your major muscles moving and your heart and breathing rate up but can be done for a sustained period eg walking, swimming, cycling. Resistance exercise is exercise that strengthens muscles by making them work against a force such as weights or your own body weight eg weightlifting, lunges, squats).
Three exercise sessions per week, each lasting at least 30 minutes at moderate to vigorous intensity are recommended for a minimum of 8 weeks. (Moderate intensity exercise requires some effort, but still allows you to speak easily while vigorous intensity exercise takes more effort and makes you breathe harder and faster so it is difficult to speak.)
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