Physical Activity and the Medicine Wheel: the Mind

Mental Health Benefits of Daily Physical Activity

  • Physical activity
    • Increases serotonin (reduces depression) in the brain
    • Helps reduce depression, anxiety and panic disorders
    • May also decrease the time required for anti-depressants to be effective
    • Increases endorphins from long-duration aerobic exercise
      • Endorphins are the brain's "feel-good" neurotransmitters. Sometimes called, "runner's high"
    • Enhances brain activity (reaction time, memory, reasoning)
    • Increases the speed and efficiency of mental processes such as organizing (planning, scheduling, interpreting visual images)
    • Improves verbal and memory skills
    • Improves academic achievement, particularly for math and science
    • Promotes better mental functioning across the age span
      • Twice a week is related to a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease
    • Improves sleep
    • May reduce pain (naloxone)
    • Acts as a form of meditation or relaxation for many
    • Reduces mental fatigue