Originally published Feb 6, 2023 by the UNLV News Center.

By Mikaila Becze

Feeling stressed or overwhelmed? One of the best ways to improve mental health is to walk away — literally. Exercising isn’t a cure all for mental wellness, but studies have shown that it can help.

Just 30 minutes of exercise can reduce anxiety and increase energy compared to 30 minutes of resting, according to research in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal. A study conducted by UNLV also concluded that college students who don’t exercise regularly are over three times more likely to report any level of depression and two times more likely to report moderate to severe depression.

“When we increase our body's circulation to our heart and lungs, our brain will also benefit from additional circulation,” explains Jalene. “It just makes more sense that if you provide a more hospitable environment for your neurons and your brain that you might have a better outcome.”

Some ways to increase daily movement are through aerobics, like walking, running, or cycling, and resistance training, like weight lifting or bodyweight movements. Simple lifestyle movement can count as exercise too. Think of things like gardening, parking further away, or playing with your dog— all are great options. Getting your steps in and an increased heart rate is key.

Here’s the burning question: What’s the best type of movement? Scrolling through your social media feed can feel overwhelming when trying to figure out what's best for you. One week people claim weight lifting is ideal, the next week it's walking, and after that it’s pilates.

The answer is simple: It’s whatever you enjoy the most. Forcing yourself to do an exercise you don’t like won’t provide a viable outlet for prolonged wellness. Instead, find something you enjoy, and stick with it.

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