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Mind & Mood

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This may be stating the obvious but your mood and your mental health affect every aspect of your life, from how you feel about yourself to your relationships with others and your physical health.

There is a strong link between good mental health and good physical health, and vice versa.

In the other direction, depression and other mental health issues can contribute to digestive disorders, trouble sleeping, lack of energy, heart disease, and other health issues.

There are many ways to keep your mind and mood in optimal shape. Exercise, healthy eating, and stress reduction techniques like meditation or mindfulness can keep your brain — and your body — in tip-top shape.

Benefits of exercise

Regular exercise is known to help manage symptoms of depression. But which types of exercise are most effective?

An analysis of 215 studies published online Feb. 14, 2024, by The BMJ compared how several different forms of exercise help with depression.

The options included walking, running, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, aerobic exercise, and strength training. The researchers also looked at the effectiveness of exercise when combined with therapy and antidepressants.

The results revealed for people using exercise as the only treatment for depression, the most effective types were walking, running, yoga, strength training, and dancing.

Among people who combined exercise with talk therapy, the standouts were yoga, tai chi, and aerobic exercise, especially for men and older adults.

People who took antidepressants and did any form of exercise fared better than those who only took medication.


The researchers noted that while higher-intensity exercise was most helpful for depression, any consistent exercise is better than none. It also didn’t matter how long people exercised during a typical workout or if they exercised only once a week or more.

When mood and mental health slip, doing something about it as early as possible can keep the change from getting worse or becoming permanent.

Treating conditions like depression and anxiety improve quality of life. Learning to manage stress makes for more satisfying and productive days.


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