Module 20: The Brain In Motion
You may understand that exercise is good for your body – but perhaps more importantly – exercise is essential for your brain. Your brain is made for movement.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors used to walk on average 7 miles per day. Today, the average American walks under 2 miles per day and sits about 7 hours a day.
Even moderate movement like walking, gardening, or light yoga has measurable impacts on mood, anxiety, reasoning and overall mental health and mental fitness.
Studies have repeatedly shown that exercise is an effective treatment option for chronic stress and anxiety. Some clinical research has even found exercise to be as effective as antidepressant medication.
The effects of exercise on mood are innumerable. It releases endorphins, it provides directed distraction from negative thoughts, boosts confidence in self efficacy and self-confidence.
From a biological perspective, exercise enhances key brain mechanisms involved in depression and anxiety, neuroplasticity, neurogenesis and increased levels of BDNF.
Try to shoot for the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week. But it’s okay to start small. Even a 10 minute walk around the block can positively impact mood. Remember, everyone brings different abilities and challenges to their mental health journey and so adapt these recommendations as needed. Bottomline: More movement means better mental health.