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This is the Best Type of Exercise for Optimum Mental Health

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In recent years, researchers have been connecting the dots between our cognitive health and exercise. Now a study released this week has revealed that one type of exercise may be the most beneficial for the health of our brain. It’s something so incredibly easy that you’ll smack yourself in the head for not thinking of it sooner.

Aerobic exercise is the key.

The study, which you can read about more here, is the largest long-term study of its kind to look at the link between exercise and mental health. It focused specifically on depression. The researchers derived their results from studying approximately 34,000 Norwegian adults over 11 years and had them report how often they exercised each week, how intense it was, and how depressed or anxious they felt.

The results showed that aerobic exercise, which is any type of exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you moving and sweating for a sustained period, had the most significant impact on subjects in boosting their overall mental health. However, it was noted that the exercise did not need to be aerobic in order for there to be improvements in mental health. Participants who got moving without becoming breathless in activities such as walking were less likely to report symptoms of depression.

Researchers haven’t yet discovered why exercise provides so many benefits to our brain and body. One proposed theory is that the increased blood flow derived from aerobic workouts pumps fresh oxygen to the brain. However, no real definitive reason has been found.

Numerous studies done over the past decade have found the benefits in exercise improving our overall mood and health. A study released this past May found that in adults ages 60 to 88, walking for 30 minutes four days a week for 12 weeks appeared to strengthen connectivity in a region of the brain where weakened connections have been linked with memory loss. Other studies have found a correlation between blood flow during exercise and an improvement in mood and energy throughout the course of an exercise routine.

It’s safe to say that introducing frequent exercise into our daily routine may be what keeps our brains at their optimum level.