More and more studies on the benefits of exercise are finding that, besides being good for your physical health and physique, regular exercise can also lift your mood. This is something worth noting, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with depression.

In fact, it’s possible to improve your mental health with just a few hours of exercise every week. That’s what a study in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet discovered.

The study, which was published in August 2018, looked at recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and found that:

  • People who exercised experienced fewer days of poor mental health than people who didn’t exercise.
  • Being active for 45 minutes, three to five times per week appears to be the ideal amount of exercise. More exercise time was sometimes associated with worse mental health.
  • Those who participated in team sports, cycling, and aerobic and gym activities experienced the fewest days of poor mental health.

No time for club sports or scheduled gym activities? No problem! The study also noted that all forms of exercise were found to improve mental health. So, no matter what activity you choose, you can still reap the amazing physical and mental health benefits of exercise.

Sneak exercise into your day

During those times when hitting the gym just doesn’t fit into your schedule, try these tips for sneaking exercise into your day:

  • Start your day with a few stretches or yoga poses. Be sure to inhale and exhale deeply for a calming effect.
  • Go for a walk outside on your lunch break. (The sunshine will boost your mood, too.)
  • Get up and move at least every 30 minutes if you work at a desk. Try to stretch, do push-ups, walk or march in place, or go chat with a friend for a few minutes.
  • Park your car in the back of the parking lot, so you have to walk farther to wherever you’re going.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • Do a quick session of push-ups, squats and lunges at home in the evening while you watch TV.
  • Play with your child or pet.

May is Mental Health Month. Getting help from a trusted mental health provider is the first step to a fuller life.

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