Exercise to Ease Your Mind

Written By:Stacy Simon

Editor’s Note: Guidelines on diet and physical activity are updated as scientific evidence continues to evolve. Please read the most recent recommendations here.

Getting regular physical activity is an important part of staying healthy. It can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk for certain types of cancer and other diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Research shows that staying active can also provide you with psychological benefits – improving mood and self-esteem, and lowering anxiety and stress.

According to MayoClinic.org, a brisk 30-minute walk can help stimulate brain chemicals that may help you feel happier and more relaxed. Exercising regularly may help you feel better about yourself and your appearance, which can improve your confidence and self-esteem. What’s more, evidence shows that exercise can help lower long-term depression, according to the American Psychological Association.

Most of the studies linking physical activity to psychological benefits have focused on aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing.  Aerobic exercise in the studies has been linked to reduced anxiety and stress. One hypothesis is that exercise increases blood flow to the brain. People who engage in exercise also tend to get more social interaction, which may also play a role.

For many people, exercise and physical activity are a way to have fun, feel better, maintain a healthy weight, and stay healthy. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (like brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (like jogging) each week, preferably spread throughout the week.  

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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