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Here's how long it takes exercise to help your mental health

9 Oct 2023 23:01PM by Gok Yesodharan - Regional Fitness Manager

mental health and happiness

It’s no secret that exercise has a positive impact on both your mental and physical health. With benefits including improved sleep, better mood, reduced stress and more self-confidence it’s no wonder that regular physical activity comes highly recommended.

But how long do you need to exercise before you can expect it to make a difference? Good question. The answer is, it depends on what you’re looking for and whether you’re looking for a short-term gain or a long-term change. Let’s explore how the timing of your exercise routine can help you reap these mental health rewards. 



Instant mood enhancement - get 'em endorphins!

You’ve probably heard of endorphins. They’re hormones released by your body which are designed to reduce pain, alleviate stress and boost your mood. Exercising can trigger the production of endorphins – and you don’t need to work out for long for it to happen either!  

When we say: ‘give it your all, even if your all is 10 minutes’, we mean it. On average, it can take around 10 minutes of exercise for your body to start producing endorphins. That’s according to a study conducted by wiggle.co.uk which found that people who exercise at least three times a week start to feel the natural high from exercise after nine minutes and 44 seconds.

According to the research, women feel the benefits of endorphins slightly quicker than men on average. For women, it’s nine minutes and seven seconds for the natural high to kick in, according to the survey. For men, it’s 10 minutes and 20 seconds.  


But Wiggle isn’t the only brand conducting research into exercise and our mental health. Sports retailer ASICS found that running for 20 minutes could reduce anxiety and increase calmness by 15.9%.

 


A regular exercise habit reaps the long-term benefits 

Once you start experiencing the immediate benefits of exercise, you’re pretty much hooked. And that’s a good thing. Not only will you be boosting your mental wellness in the moment, but you’ll also be working towards more long-term benefits.  

ASICS also conducted a study on the impact of exercise on mental health by testing competitive gamers, including chess players. After four months of consistent exercise, they found that their ability to solve problems had increased by an average of 9% and their processing speed and alertness increased by 10%. The gamers’ short-term memory increased by 12% alongside a 33% boost in concentration.  

 

Your mind and mental health are forever changing and keeping them in check is not a quick fix. Staying active on a regular basis will bring you lots of benefits. Making exercise a part of your daily routine, even if it’s just for a few minutes will make you feel better. It’s why we say: it all counts.  

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