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Research has shown that exercise can prevent and improve many health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Exercise also improves our general sense of wellbeing and is good for our mental health.

Exercise and Your Mental Health

Research has shown that exercise can prevent and improve many health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Exercise also improves our general sense of wellbeing and is good for our mental health. Exercise can help combat stress, depression, and anxiety. When you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, exercise might seem impossible; however, by finding some motivation to get started and staying consistent, you’ll begin to notice the psychological benefits. Exercise helps improve mental health by releasing endorphins, the natural “feel good” chemicals in the brain that promote a sense of wellbeing. Exercise is also a type of mindful activity that gets you out of your head, disrupts negative thinking, and can give you a break from the cycle of worrying (Mayo Clinic, 2017).

Below are a few psychological benefits of exercise:

Improve Confidence and Self-Esteem: Achieving exercise goals can boost confidence by showing yourself what you’re body can do. Getting fit can help you feel good about yourself and your appearance (Mayo Clinic, 2017)

Social Interaction: Getting out of the house by going to the gym or running or walking in the park can increase your chances of small interactions with others, such as a smile or wave. You may even meet new people depending on the type of exercise setting you’re in.

Healthy Coping: Exercise is a healthy way to cope with stress, depression, and anxiety. By exercising, you disrupt negative thinking and worry that are associated with depression and anxiety.

Improve Sleep: Exercise is one sleep hygiene habit that can promote quality sleep. By being active during the day, you’re better able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Exercise is planned, vigorous, repetitive movement that is meant to improve physical fitness such as playing sports, running, swimming, pilates, or weight lifting. Exercise is meant to get your heart pumping and your body sweating. Aiming for 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 days a week has been shown to improve depression and anxiety (Mayo Clinic, 2017). Finding types of exercise you enjoy exploring a variety of different exercise is a great way to regularly meet your health and fitness goals.

Four types of exercise:

  • Endurance: jogging, aerobics, swimming, dancing, biking, playing sports
  • Strength: body weight exercises, resistance training, and weight lifting
  • Balance: yoga and Tai Chi
  • Flexibility: dynamic or static stretching, yoga, and pilates

Physical activity is not the same as exercise, but it has psychological benefits as well. Physical activity is any type of activity that gets you up and moving. Fitting short periods of physical activity throughout the day, keeps your body moving and your mind focused on the task at hand, which helps you get out of your head and improves mood.

Some physical activities include:

  • Household chores
  • Gardening
  • Yard work
  • Playing with your pet or kids
  • Washing your car
  • Grocery shopping
  • Climbing the stairs
  • Leisurely walking or bike riding

Aim to engage in physical activities on a regular basis, such as standing every hour, increasing your steps, and engaging in household and outdoor activities. In summary, engaging in physical activities on a regular basis and exercising for 30 minutes, three times a week has been shown to help reduce depression and anxiety and promote good mental health.

Ready to Talk?
At CHE Behavioral Services, we understand the challenges of living with anxiety, stress, depression and worry. We are committed to helping those who are struggling. We offer online talk therapy and medication management designed to help people manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Our licensed mental health professionals work with clients to create personalized treatment plans that meet their unique needs and goals.

For more information about talk therapy at CHE, please call 888-515-3834. We are ready to talk and ready to listen.

Work Cited:
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms.” Mayo Clinic, 27 Sept. 2017,

Makenzie Pacubas, MSW, LCSW

CHE Quality Assurance Associate
Makenzie is a clinical social worker who has worked in the mental/behavioral health field for over a decade and now works as a clinical quality assurance associate with CHE Behavioral Health Services. Makenzie lives in Missouri with her husband, Justin, and their two puppies and cat. She likes art, singing, exercising, reading, getting outdoors, and trying new restaurants.