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How Exercise Improves Your Mental Health

0258739001569959469.jpgIf you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: you need to get off the couch and start exercising. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, plus an additional two days per week spent on strength training. In a world increasingly fixated on health—and thinness—it might seem like the benefits of exercise are overrated. But if you're looking for motivation to finally get on the fitness bandwagon, look no further than your drive for happiness. The right exercise program truly can change your life.
It Alleviates Depression 

Overwhelmed by depression? You might not have to go on medication to feel better. Research is increasingly pointing to the power of exercise to stamp out depression, and some studies even say that exercise can be as effective as popular antidepressants!

It Eases Stress 

Stress may be the key to a host of illnesses. It causes heart disease and depression, anxiety and cancer. But you don't have to live in a permanently stressed-out state. Just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise can reduce stress hormones in your blood, and gentle strength training, such as yoga or Pilates, can help ease chronic muscle tension and stress. 

It Prevents Chronic Pain

Think you're in too much pain to exercise? Think again. About a quarter of Americans live with chronic pain, and this pain can contribute to a host of mental health issues. The good news is that exercise not only prevents, but also treats, chronic pain. Start slow, then steadily work your way into good mental and physical health!

It Makes You Smarter 

The myth of the dumb jock is just that—a myth. Exercise increases oxygen and blood flow to your brain, helping your brain work more efficiently. If you find yourself struggling with motivation, “brain fog,” or stress-related difficulties with thinking, get a little exercise and enjoy your newfound smarts.  

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