When you exercise a release of endorphins occurs, and this is the “high” you feel after a good work out – a feeling of happiness and reward. This natural “high” has a positive effect on mental health and can reduce symptoms of depression and other mental health illnesses.
When exercising you also get an increase of something called neutrophils, white blood cells assisting the immune system, and monoamines, a neurotransmitter. These two are both linked to reducing symptoms of depression and mental health illnesses.
The World Health Organization estimates that, globally, 154 million people suffer from depression and mental health illnesses. A challenge in using exercise as a medicine for mental health, however, is that compliance is generally low. It’s though to motivate people to exercise when they suffer from symptoms of depression.
Good news is that a research has showed that just walking could significantly improve mental health. A study from the UK shows that the work-out does not necessarily need to be demanding. The researchers found that the duration of the activity was more important than the intensity.
So next time you are taking the bus or the car somewhere, why not do your body and brain a favour and take a walk instead?