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You don't need as much exercise as you might think - here's what the science tells us

In order to reap the benefits of an improved mindset, you don’t need to exercise nearly as much as you might think you do. Almost any amount of physical activity is beneficial for mindset, balanced mood, stress management and happiness.  And there’s science to back this up.

Here's what the research tells us. 

How Often?

Singh et al. found that an exercise frequency of 2-3 times per week resulted in decreasing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.  However, they found that optimal benefits were seen at a frequency of 4-5x per week.119

A Single Session

A literature review by Robert Yeung found that even a single bout of exercise can result in an improvement in mood.147

Length of Session

Sessions of 30-60 minutes are considered optimal for mental health benefits, but shorter durations of exercise can also positively impact mental health, with improvements in mood achievable within just 10 minutes.119,51


For symptoms of depression, medium and high intensity exercise, especially high intensity, were identified as most beneficial. Similarly, for symptoms of anxiety, medium and high intensity exercise were found to be equally beneficial.119

A Short Walk

Don’t have 30-60 minutes available? That’s OK, because a study by Edwards et al. found that even a brisk 10-minute walk results in improvements in mood.34

Brief Movement

Even very brief periods of physical activity are beneficial.  According to Dr. Guillem Gonzalez-Lomas, an orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Sports Health, “Quick bursts of movement are effective ways to activate several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine that enhance your mood and help cushion some of that anxiety and stress.” For instance, you could do 20 jumping jacks, 10 pushups or sit-ups, or run in place for 30 seconds.55

So in summary, everything counts. Just do what you can and get started.

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