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New Year, New You: 5 Ways Physical Activity Can Improve Mental Wellness.

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It’s that time of year again! The time for New Years resolutions. For many people this includes starting an exercise program to lose those extra pounds from the holiday season. Most people know that we feel better when we exercise, but do you truly know why? There are several studies that connect exercise and mental well being. A 2010 study by Dunn and Jewell discusses a recent report about the ability of physical activity to prevent mental disorders. The conclusions of this report are that:

1. Physical activity can protect against feelings of distress.

2. Enhance psychological well-being.

3. Protect against symptoms of anxiety and development of anxiety disorders.

4. Protect against depressive symptoms and development of major depressive disorder.

5. Delay the effects of dementia and the cognitive decline associated with aging.

As a physical therapist, I teach people everyday to go beyond the stigma of “exercise." Most people think they have to get on a treadmill or join a gym and go everyday to truly say they are exercising. However making small goals that are achievable can help you stick to a program. For example, parking at the end of the lot instead of the closest spot. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. And also using a pedometer or fitness tracker and setting goals on how many steps a day can also help.

All in all, exercising can have a tremendous effect on both your physical and mental health. For more information, contact New Insight Counseling and Consulting. Happy New Year!!

About the Author: Dr. Lauren Tillman, PT, DPT, OCS writes blogs about exercise and physical rehabilitation for New Insight. Lauren has also written research articles such as "Children's and Adolescent's Perceptions of Light, Moderate, and Vigorous Physical Activity: Building a Model to Promote Physical Activity." For additional information on Dr. Lauren Tillman visit

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Dunn, Andrea L.1; Jewell, Jennifer S.2."The Effect of Exercise on Mental Health."Current Sports Medicine Reports: July-August 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 4 - p 202-207doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3181e7d9af

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