It's a proven fact that exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. There are a host of other benefits to exercising regularly, too (weight loss, increased interest in sex, increased stamina, etc.) In the midst of this pandemic, when so many of us are self-isolating and cut off from our normal routines, it's more important than ever to do everything we can to keep our stress levels low and give our lives a little structure.
Although mental health professionals have been slow to adopt exercise regimens in the treatment of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, any number of articles you read on treatment options will highlight physical activity as a key factor. It's especially important not to skip a workout because you're experiencing anxiety or depression - in fact, that's when you need it the most. According to Michael Otto, a professor of psychology at Boston University, exercise can impart a mood enhancing effect within five minutes of a moderate workout.
"Failing to exercise when you feel bad is like explicitly not taking an aspirin when your head hurts." - Boston University professor of psychology Michael Otto
San Francisco local news station KRON4 recently published a short article detailing how the pandemic is affecting mental health in the U.S. and some guidelines for keeping your body and brain healthy. While none of their suggestions are sitting at a desk or on a couch reading the news, you can check out their full article here.