Brief Bouts of Exercise Shown to Improve Mental Health
Naysayers say the effects of exercise do not last, but neither does bathing which is why experts recommend doing it everyday. We know the effects of exercise are robust and powerful and if they could be placed in a pill the medication would be the most prescribed drug of all time. Active individuals have significantly less risk of developing anxiety or depression compared to their sedentary peers. In turn, the effects of aerobic exercise either match or beat the effects of medications for common mental health diagnoses. New research highlights the effects of even short bouts of aerobic exercise on our mental and emotional health.
A recent review of the evidence was performed to identify the relationship between physical activity and happiness (Zhang, Z et al. J Happiness Studeies. 2018). Authors utilized a total of 23 studies involving wide ranges of geographic areas and populations. They reported even minimal exercise doses of 1 workout per week or as little as 10 minutes of exercise were associated with improvements in happiness. In addition to aerobic exercise, balance and stretching exercises were also associated with improvements in happiness. Future studies are needed to improve our confidence in a causal vs. correlational relationship between physical activity and happiness.