"You're only one workout away from a good mood."
That may sound like a T-shirt slogan, but a new study confirms what we have long suspected: Regular physical activity is a great way to reduce the risk of depression and to improve your mood if you are feeling down.
A study in JAMA Psychiatry looked at 15 studies with more than 190,000 participants to determine the association between physical activity and depression. The researchers found that compared to sedentary adults, those who got just half of the recommended amount of physical activity (equivalent to 2.5 hours a week of brisk walking) had an 18% lower risk of depression; those getting the full recommended dose (less than I think is sufficient) saw a 25% reduction.
Just imagine how you might feel if you got 10,000 steps a day plus two strength-building sessions weekly.
Depression reduction isn't the only mood benefit from exercise. Regular exercise dispels stress, anger, and mental fatigue, gives you a sense of accomplishment, helps regulate your blood sugar (that affects mood big time), and helps with focus and motivation in your work.
I’m currently enthusiastic about combining 10,000 steps a day (do interval training) with jumping jacks (they increase bone and muscle strength, and improve balance and coordination) and strength training using body weight (planks, wall sits, wall pushups, squats).
For a full rundown of these workouts, check out health.clevelandclinic.org; search for "exercise."