Exercise has long been known to be a boon for the mind. It stimulates endorphins and the neurotransmitter serotonin and a recent US study found that it also boosts levels of two other neurotransmitters that regulate emotional health. ‘The easier you make it, the more likely you are to do it, so pulling on your trainers and running around the local park is an obvious one,’ says Jo. ‘And always seek out something you really enjoy – again, you’ll be more inclined to do it.’
Along with mood, exercise also influences brain health as we age, with a new study finding that women who were highly fit in middle age had a five times lower risk of dementia than those who weren’t, and another showing that highintensity exercise can improve memory.
Exercise that requires concentration has a similar effect to meditation. Tai chi is a prime example, but for something more physical, try bouldering (climbing low routes without a rope). A US study found that doing it for just eight weeks eased depression because of the focus required – visit thebmc.co.uk. The socialising effect: people who exercised in a group showed better physical and emotional improvement than those who worked out alone.
If you’re feeling low, do anything that moves your body for the feelgood factor, even for two minutes. Dance, do star jumps, take a walk around the block – you’ll always feel better for it.