1 Hour a Week for a Future of Happiness

Many people make New Year’s resolutions to start exercising, but too often those resolutions fall by the wayside. However, in addition to the obvious benefits of exercise in weight loss and physical fitness, there is another reason to make a more determined effort to hit the gym, run at the track, swim in the pool, or visit the exercise venue of choice… Your enhanced mental well-being.

An Hour a Week Keeps the Blues at Bay

A 2017 study conducted by the Black Dog Institute showed that regular exercise not only produces mood-lifting endorphins during a workout but that keeping active can actually help fight future depression. The news gets even better: It isn’t necessary to be a gym rat to benefit from exercise. As little as one hour of exercise per week can help stave off depression. Exercise benefits are not gender-specific, and the benefits of exercise extend across all age groups.

Physical and Social Benefits

Sedentary lifestyles have become the norm worldwide, with the unfortunate dual effects of increased obesity rates and higher levels of depression. By contrast, it is the combined physical and social benefits of exercise that provide protection against depression. Along with the production of mood-lifting endorphins, exercise enhances a person’s view of himself or herself. Exercise done with a friend or in a class also promotes social engagement. And exercise need not be strenuous to yield benefits. Even small lifestyle changes can produce significant physical and mental health benefits.

Low-impact Exercise Ideas

For people just beginning an exercise regimen, starting slowly is the key. The following list represents good options for easy, low-impact exercises:

  • Walking with your dog or with a friend
  • Light stretching
  • Joining an exercise challenge (for increased accountability)
  • At-home exercises, with or without equipment