Improving physical health and the physical benefits of fighting disease through exercise have long been established. Doctors have always encouraged us to stay physically active. Exercise is important for maintaining mental and emotional wellbeing. It reduces fatigue and stress and can improve concentration and us being alert.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, improve sleep, elevate mood and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic, exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. Although the effects may be temporary, they demonstrate that a brisk walk or other simple activity can deliver several hours of relief.
Other studies have also provided some evidence that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. In one study, researchers found that those who got regular vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression, or an anxiety disorder over the next five years.
According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. One vigorous exercise session can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time.
With any form of therapy, the effects can vary. Some people may find they respond positively to exercise, others may find it doesn’t improve their mood much, and some may experience only a modest short-term benefit. Nonetheless, researchers say that the beneficial effects of exercise on physical health are not in dispute, and people should be encouraged to stay physically active.
The most recent guidelines for adults recommend at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity (such as jogging or swimming laps), or a combination of the two.
Here are some suggestions to help you get you started:
- Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes;
- Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable;
- Many people find it’s more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy, such as a podcast or music;
- Exercise with someone. It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
When starting any new exercise programme, it’s important to be patient. People who are sedentary will need to exercise for about four to eight weeks so that they’re sufficiently in shape, and so that when they exercise it begins to feel easier.
Personally, I believe the holistic side of exercise can and does work and is massively important, but it must be coupled with a healthier lifestyle for us to reap and feel the benefits, long-term.