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Physical activity proven to boost mental health

This is not going to come as a surprise, but a refresher never hurts - and it may get some of us off the couch. Regular physical activity improves mood, mental health and quality of life. According to a helpful handout from the Arizona Department of Health Services, people who have a serious mental illness experience better mental health and symptom relief when they are physically active. Similarly, older adults often reduce their depressive systems, risks of a fall, and physical limitations.

Regular physical activity can help you:

• Sleep better

• Improve mood and memory

• Reduce anxiety and depression

• Keep you sharp and strong as you age

• Decrease risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and high cholesterol

• Reduce or maintain a healthy weight

• Improve your chances of living longer

If you are intimidated by the idea of buff people sweating in a gym, realize that you can do fun activities within your own comfort zone and still get the exercise you need. So, what counts as physical activity?

• 2 hours and 30 minutes every week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking, tennis, pushing the lawn mower, bicycling, swimming, hiking, house cleaning), and,

• Muscle-strengthening activities (i.e., resistance bands, yoga, digging a garden or lifting weights) on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

There is no time like the present - get off that couch and get moving, so you can reap both the physical and mental health benefits! For more info, go to www.azdhs.gov/bhs/qhi/.

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