Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

These are the 3 types of exercise you should be doing for better mental health, study says

Man lifting deadlift bar
Victor Freitas / Pexels

Depression can feel like an uphill battle you never signed up for. Often, movement can seem like the last thing that would help you feel better. However, numerous studies have shown the positive effects of exercise on mental health. It has even been suggested that exercise could be considered a “core treatment” for depression.

Man sitting on ground with head in his hands, looking frustrated
Nathan Cowley / Pexels

What is the link between exercise and depression?

Exercise has long been known to have numerous benefits for our physical health, but what about our mental well-being? 

Several explanations have been proposed for how exercise improves mental health, but the exact mechanisms are not fully understood. It has been suggested that exercise increases the brain’s production of endorphins, which are known as “feel-good” chemicals. 

Other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood, are also released during exercise. Physical activity can also provide a mental escape from negative thoughts and emotions.

Man walking in nature with backpack
Clem Onojeghuo / Pexels

So, what’s the best exercise for mental health?

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal reviewed 218 randomized controlled trials and concluded that walking or running, strength training, and yoga were the top three forms of exercise found to combat depression. Also effective in improving mental well-being were strength training, mixed aerobic exercise, and Tai Chi.

It’s interesting to note the study found that exercise works regardless of the severity of other health conditions or depression. Therefore, regardless of your current health, incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help you feel better mentally. Assuming you can exercise safely.

Furthermore, the study found that exercise works better the more intense it is. This suggests that engaging in activities that elevate your heart rate and challenge your body may have greater benefits for your mental health.

Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine may seem challenging at first, but there are several strategies you can adopt to make it easier. First, start by setting realistic goals and gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your workouts over time.

To make exercise a seamless part of your daily routine, try incorporating it into activities you already enjoy. For example, you can walk or jog to work instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or incorporate strength training exercises into your lunch break. You can also consider finding an exercise buddy or joining a running or hiking group to increase your motivation and accountability.

Man in gym doing pushup off of two kettle bells.
Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels

Connecting the dots between exercise and mental health

Exercise is not just about physical fitness; it has a profound impact on our mental well-being as well. Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins, our body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which can help boost our mood and reduce symptoms of depression. 

So, whether you prefer going for a brisk walk, hitting the pavement for a run, or finding your zen through yoga, incorporating these activities into your routine can have a positive impact on your mental health.

Editors' Recommendations

Brittney Bertagna, RN
Brittney is a graduate of California State University, Chico, where she completed a Bachelor's degree in Business. Her…
A new study suggests the secret to your skincare routine is… strength training?
Lifting weights may be the new anti-aging skincare hack
man doing skincare

Forget the face scrubs made from oatmeal and questionable DIY concoctions. Guys, the secret weapon in your anti-aging arsenal might already be hiding in your weight room.

New research shows that building muscle might be the secret weapon you've been missing. A study published in Scientific Reports found that strength training could actually be more effective in reducing signs of aging than cardio, especially for your skin. While the study focused on women, the researchers believe the benefits hold true for men, too.

Read more
Benefits of ginger: 6 reasons why you should add it to your grocery list today
Learn how ginger could be an essential superfood for your diet
Ginger on cutting board.

All over the world,ginger is consumed in many ways; these include as a spice, in teas and soups, and more! No matter how you choose to enjoy the superfood, it cannot be denied that there are many benefits of ginger. Due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties, there are six significant ways that ginger can positively affect your health.

It doesn’t require a lot of ginger to make a difference, either! Three to four grams of ginger daily is optimal for the average healthy adult. Any more than this can lead to gastrointestinal distress and heartburn. So as long as you stay within the guidelines, you can include ginger in your diet in various ways and reap the many health benefits it provides.

Read more
5 effective resistance band exercises to target your chest
5 effective resistance band exercises for a developed chest
Resistance band.

Using resistance bands when exercising has grown in popularity. Compared to dumbbells, they are also considered more convenient as they are usually much cheaper and easier to carry around. For many people, they may be a more suitable alternative to dumbbells and can still give your chest a solid pump.

That being said, what are the best resistance band chest exercises?

Read more