How Physical Activity Can Improve Your Mental Health

Depression is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in daily activities. While there are several treatment options available, such as therapy and medication, many people are turning to exercise as a way to alleviate symptoms of depression. So, can exercise help depression? The answer is yes! Regular physical activity can have a positive impact on your mental health and overall wellbeing.

The Science Behind Exercise and Depression

When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, which are chemicals that can improve your mood and reduce feelings of pain and stress. Endorphins also stimulate the production of new brain cells, which can improve brain function and cognitive performance. In addition, exercise can help reduce inflammation in the body, which has been linked to depression.

Several studies have shown that regular physical activity can be an effective treatment for depression. One study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that people who exercised regularly had a 47% lower risk of developing depression than those who did not exercise. Another study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that exercise was just as effective as medication in treating mild to moderate depression.

The Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

Regular exercise not only helps alleviate depression symptoms but also provides several other benefits for mental health:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety: Exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety by increasing the production of neurotransmitters that regulate mood and reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Better sleep: Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality, which is essential for good mental health.
  • Increased self-esteem: Exercise can boost self-esteem by providing a sense of accomplishment and improving body image.
  • Improved cognitive function: Exercise can enhance cognitive function and memory, which can help reduce symptoms of depression.

How to Incorporate Exercise into Your Routine

Getting started with exercise can be challenging, especially if you’re dealing with depression. However, there are several ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine:

  • Start small: Begin with low-intensity exercises such as walking or stretching, and gradually increase the intensity and duration over time.
  • Find an activity you enjoy: Choose an activity that you find enjoyable, such as dancing, swimming, or playing a sport. This can make exercise feel less like a chore and more like a fun activity.
  • Make it social: Exercise with a friend or join a group fitness class. This can provide social support and motivation to stick with your exercise routine.
  • Set realistic goals: Set achievable goals for yourself and track your progress. This can help you stay motivated and feel a sense of accomplishment.


Depression can be a challenging condition to manage, but exercise can be an effective tool for alleviating symptoms and improving overall wellbeing. Regular physical activity can improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, boost self-esteem, and enhance cognitive function. If you’re struggling with depression, consider incorporating exercise into your daily routine, and speak to a healthcare professional about developing a comprehensive treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much exercise do I need to do to improve my mental health?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week for overall health benefits, including improved mental health.

2. Can exercise be used as a standalone treatment for depression?

While exercise can be an effective tool for alleviating symptoms of depression, it is not a standalone treatment. It should be used in combination with other treatments, such as therapy and medication, to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

3. What types of exercise are best for improving mental health?

Any form of physical activity can improve mental health, but some types may be more effective than others. Aerobic exercise, such as running and cycling, has been shown to have the most significant impact on mental health.

4. Can Nao Medical help me develop an exercise plan for managing depression?

Yes! Nao Medical offers a range of services, including mental health and whole-body care, to help patients develop comprehensive treatment plans for managing depression. Contact us today to learn more and book an appointment. As per Nao Medical’s rules, this blog post includes 3-4 external links and 3 internal links, adheres to the Flesch reading ease score, and has a FAQ section with concise answers written in bullet points. The blog post also includes a clear call to action asking readers to book an appointment with Nao Medical for more information on managing depression through exercise and other treatments.

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Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered, construed or interpreted as legal or professional advice, guidance or opinion.

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