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Articles Fitness Nutrition

4 Workouts to Help Improve Mental Health

Dec 7, 2010

There are many types of exercise that improve mental health. A regular exercise regimen will reduce your stress, lift your mood, improve your self-esteem and help you to sleep better. For the fitness activity to produce these results, it needs to be aerobic in nature. You want to exercise in ways that pump up your heart rate and challenge your body. Here are four workouts that help to improve mental health.

1. Aerobic Activity

Research shows that aerobic exercise has anti-depressant effects on the body. When you elevate your heart rate and increase your blood circulation, you will experience an increase in endorphins. Endorphins numb pain and improve your mood. To get these benefits, engage in aerobic exercise that you can sustain for a minimum of 30 minutes several times per week. A few options include aerobics classes, cycling, running, hip-hop classes or hiking. The more challenging the aerobic activity, the better it will be for delivering mental health benefits.

2. Outdoor Exercise

If you want to improve your mood, exercise outdoors. Outdoor fitness activities, also referred to as green exercise, are known to reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being. Exercising in fresh air and being exposed to beautiful sights and scents has shown to be healthy for both the mind and body.

When you exercise in a clean outdoor environment, your lungs breathe in fresh air, cleansing your body of impurities. Your mind tends to let go of its usual worries and focus more on the beauty of your surroundings. Riding your bike through a scenic spot or jogging by a lake or body of water are examples of ways to gain the mental health benefits of outdoor exercise.

3. Swimming

Whether you do it indoors or outdoors, swimming has a positive effect on both the body and the mind. It is relaxing for your muscles. The rhythmic element of swimming and moving through the water is calming for the mind. If you want the added benefit of green exercise, swim in an ocean, lake or in an outdoor pool.

4. Exercising with Others

Another way to improve mental health through exercise is by working out with others. Sometimes just the act of getting together with a friend to chat can eliminate your stress and reduce your worries. When you exercise with friends, you can support each other emotionally. Having fun working out with friends can be a great mood enhancer.

Being involved in team sports is a good way to exercise with others and improve mental health. The camaraderie of playing on a team, engaging in friendly competition and rooting for each other is helpful for alleviating your daily stresses. Organize a company softball team, join a soccer league or train for a marathon with a group of your closest friends. Setting an achievable goal and working on it together with a group of others can be an effective way to feel purposeful and become energized.

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