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How does exercise impact our mood?

We know exercise is important for strong bones, muscles and to reduce health risks, but exercise can also help improve our mental health. Exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve mood, and boost self esteem. Exercise can also improve sleep quality, sharpen cognition, and increase energy. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which trigger feelings of happiness and reduce feelings of pain. Exercise also leads to the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine which impact mood and improve one’s ability to self-regulate their emotions. 

Yoga and aerobic exercise such as jogging or biking are particularly beneficial to mental health. The meditative breathing practices of yoga are valuable tools for mindfulness and stress reduction. Aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate has also been shown to reduce stress and has led to significant reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms. Regardless of the type, exercise has been shown to improve mental health and enhance cognitive functioning. Exercise can even strengthen connections between different parts of the brain and increase the size and performance of important brain regions such as the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory consolidation. 

Many people spend the majority of their time sitting at a desk. Because so much of our time is spent in sedation, it is especially important to get moving when possible. Scheduling short workouts into your daily routine can help boost your mood and energy. Even just 30 minutes a day can improve your mental and physical health. Among children, exercise can combat depression and behavioral disorders. Staying physically active can help children have a more positive outlook; manage stress, anxiety and depression; as well as increase self esteem and cognitive skills. While any amount of exercise is helpful, it is recommended children get 60 minutes of exercise a day to fuel their physical and mental healthYou can learn more about the positive impacts of exercise on mental well being by reading Healthline’s article Exercise Benefits Children Physically & Mentally.

Resources for Children

Resources for Everyone

Visit our Get Moving page in our Virtual Wellness Room for additional suggestions.