The importance of exercise for mental health

Regular physical exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. People who lead an active life are more likely to live longer and less likely to develop serious diseases. Exercise also improves the mental health and general sense of well being.

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 The antidepressant effect of exercise is one of its most commonly accepted psychological benefits. Individuals with clinical depression tend to be less active than healthy, active adults and have a reduced capacity for physical exertion (Fox 1999). For best antidepressant effects, cardiovascular and resistance exercise are recommended. Therefore, the inclusion of resistance exercise, circuit training, calisthenics and different modes of aerobic exercise in the anti depression treatment programs should be encouraged.

Exercise has a positive influence on self-esteem (Callaghan 2004). A person who exercises has a better opinion about its body attractiveness and physical condition, which leads to better self-esteem.

Aerobic exercise and resistance training are also beneficial for the reduction of anxiety. Anxiety is distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune. This feeling is related to the sense of losing control, so an organized physical activity can influence in a positive way the feeling of control. The researches have shown that individuals who train for periods of 10–15 weeks receive the greatest anti-anxiety effects, but even short bursts of 5 minutes of cardiovascular exercise can help.

The levels of stress are also influenced by the physical exercise. Published investigations revealed that higher physical fitness is associated with lower levels of stress and the best method of exercise to reduce stress is cardiovascular exercise.

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