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- Harvard School of Public Health: The Benefits of Physical Activity
- Centers for Disease Control: Preventing Chronic Disease
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You already know the physical benefits of exercise: better health, reduced risk of potentially serious disease, lower blood pressure and a well-toned body 1. Exercise carries emotional and social benefits as well. According to KidsHealth, people that exercise regularly are more likely to classify themselves as happy than those that don't. Reap all of the benefits of exercise by getting in 30 to 60 minutes daily.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
According to Dr. Daniel M. Landers of Arizona State University, regular exercise reduces both anxiety and depression. Both conditions improve after nine to 10 weeks of regular aerobic activity, and exercise may have a greater positive impact on those that are very anxious or very depressed than in those with mild forms of these disorders. HelpGuide.org explains that exercise raises levels of serotonin, endorphins and other chemicals that have a calming, anti-depressive effect 3.
Makes You Feel Better
When you feel better physically, you are more likely to feel better emotionally as well. Regular exercise can help you to sleep better, may give you more energy and can help you to tighten and tone various areas of your body, causing you to look better in your clothing. All of these can make you feel more alert and may raise your self-esteem. The endorphins that boost your mood can also boost your concentration skills. This can allow you to focus more clearly on your relationships, your job or your schoolwork, which may add to your feelings of self-confidence.
As your emotional health and self-esteem improves, your social relations may also improve. You may be more likely to reach out to others due to your increased self-confidence. Also, participating in a sport or aerobics class will introduce you to new people that share a common interest. Meeting others may be the first step toward establishing new friendships and developing a support network. If you are not interested in a team sport, you still may be able to reap the social benefits of exercise by asking an acquaintance to meet you for regular walks, or by meeting people at the local pool or tennis courts.
In some cases, too much exercise can have a negative effect on your emotional health, warns the Baylor college of Medicine. If you become obsessed with exercise, it may indicate that you are at risk of developing an addiction. Warning signs include spending so much time exercising that you are spending less time with friends, or that your job performance or grades are suffering. Another sign of a potentially unhealthy obsession is feeling guilty about skipping your exercise routine for a day. If you are concerned that your exercise program may be detrimentally affecting your social or emotional health, talk to your doctor.
In some cases, too much exercise can have a negative effect on your emotional health, warns the Baylor college of Medicine. Also, participating in a sport or aerobics class will introduce you to new people that share a common interest. Both conditions improve after nine to 10 weeks of regular aerobic activity, and exercise may have a greater positive impact on those that are very anxious or very depressed than in those with mild forms of these disorders.
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