With fall just around the corner, a lot of us are getting ready to trade in our bikinis and shorts for sweaters and scarves. But just because bathing suit season is over, that doesn’t mean you should give up your exercise routine.
As the days start to grow shorter, your mood may take a hit thanks to the loss of that bright summer sun. Exercise can help, making you happier, reducing stress and anxiety, and giving you a better night’s sleep.
You know the deal. Exercise produces endorphins, and endorphins make people happy. With just 5 minutes of moderate exercise, you’ll start to feel a boost in your mood, and if you can make it to 20 minutes, those mood benefits can last up to 12 hours. Even better? If you listen to music during a cardio session, your mood can jump up to 15 percent.
Both exercise and happiness have been shown to increase your antibodies—the blood proteins that help fight illness and disease. Since exercise can make you happy, that’s a double boost for your body, helping you fight back everything from the autumn cold that’s going to be going around your office to heart disease.
Yes, cardio (and other aerobic, heart-pumping exercises) can give you these benefits, but so can other types of activity. Strength training has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety while improving your self-esteem. A study by Rutgers University found moderate-intensity weight lifting made people happier than high-intensity. Rather hit the studio than the gym? Yoga and tai chi practices are both linked to body and mind relaxation as well as reduced stress.
So just how much exercise do you need to see these mood-boosting benefits? Not as much as you might think. A study by Columbia University found it ranges from 2.5 to 7.5 hours a week, and anything more than that can actually diminish your mental health. So do it, but don’t overdo it.