Exercising regularly even if it is only 10-15 minutes a day helps improve your sleep, reduces stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety as well as increasing your physical fitness. Gentle exercise also helps with recovering from many illnesses and medical procedures.
Exercise makes you feel good because it releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people. If you exercise outside you get the extra benefits of Vitamin D from the sun! Vitamin D activates genes that regulate the immune system and release neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, serotonin) that affect brain function and development.
Exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain, which can help with clearer thinking. Regular aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory. It also increases the connections between the nerve cells in the brain. This improves your memory and helps protect your brain against injury and disease.
Australian Government guidelines recommend adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate to intensive physical activity on most or all days of the week. You can make up 30 minutes over the day by combining shorter 10– 15-minute sessions.
If that still seems intimidating, don’t despair. Even just a few minutes of physical activity is better than none at all. If you don’t have time for 15 or 30 minutes of exercise, or if your body tells you to take a break after 5 or 10 minutes, for example, that’s okay, too. Start with 5- or 10-minute sessions and slowly increase your time. The more you exercise, the more energy you’ll have, so eventually you’ll feel ready for a little more. The key is to commit to doing some moderate physical activity—however little—on most days. As exercising becomes a habit, you can slowly add extra minutes or try different types of activities. If you keep at it, the benefits of exercise will begin to pay off.