5 Science-Backed Mental Health Exercises, Benefits, and Ways to Improve Your Well-Being!



Published on: 22-Apr-2024


10 min read




Anushka Tripathi


5 Science-Backed Mental Health Exercises, Benefits, and Ways to Improve Your Well-Being!

5 Science-Backed Mental Health Exercises, Benefits, and Ways to Improve Your Well-Being!

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Physical and mental health are essential for overall well-being. With the rapid advancements in technology, it has become crucial to pay attention to our mental health. Poor mental health may lead to several physical health problems, and positive mental health can help limit physical health problems.  


Studies have shown that incorporating light mental health exercise into your daily routine can help improve your psychological health. In fact, around 65% of those who included some form of light exercise in their routine reported experiencing better mental health. Additionally, regular exercise can significantly reduce the risk of depression in adults by 26%.  


Individuals who engage in moderate exercise for 30-60 minutes, 3-5 days a week, also report better mental health. Therefore, exercise can be an effective way to cope with some mental disorders. This blog will discuss the relationship between physical exercise and mental health and explore some of the best mental health exercises at home. To know more, keep reading! 


Table Of Contents 

1. What Is Mental Health?  

2. What Exercise Is Best For Mental Health?  

3. What Are The 4 Types Of Mental Health Disorders? 

4. Mental Health Exercise Benefits 

5. What Are 5 Ways To Improve Mental Health? 

6. How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health?  

7. Expert Recommendation 

8. The Final Say 

9. FAQs  

10. References   


What Is Mental Health?  

Mental health is a basic human right for personal, social, and socio-economic development. It exists on a complex continuum that each person experiences differently, with varying degrees of difficulty and distress and potentially very different social and clinical outcomes.   


Mental health conditions include mental and psychosocial disorders, as well as other mental health conditions associated with significant stress, functional impairment or risk of self-harm.   



People with mental disorders are more likely to experience low levels of mental well-being, but this is not always the case. People with good mental health are often sad, unhealthy, angry or unhappy, and this is part of living a satisfying human life. Nonetheless, mental health is often conceptualised as a purely positive effect characterised by feelings of well-being and mastery over one’s environment.  


What Exercise Is Best For Mental Health?  

Here are some mental health exercises you can try:   



  • Yoga is a great stress-relieving and mental health exercise that improves your mental health.  

  • It combines a series of stationary and moving postures combined with deep breathing.   

  • Mind-body exercises like yoga can enhance our body’s natural relaxation response and put us all in a healthy mind.   

  • Try light yoga to relieve stress or yoga if your main goal is alleviating mental health issues. 


  • It is the mental health exercise that focuses your mind on deep breathing, deep thought, or a steady state for a while 

  • Meditation takes many forms, but the goal is relaxation, inner peace, and tranquillity of mind that improves mental health.  

  • If you are a beginner and find it difficult to concentrate while meditating, start meditating regularly for 5 to 10 minutes to help you maintain proper posture.  


  • Pilates is a series of controlled movements and mat exercises designed to develop focus, strength, flexibility, and endurance. Sometimes, one's mental health is directly related to the way one's body looks. 

  • Pilates helps relieve stress by toning the body, making us look and feel better.  

  • If you want to exercise independently, you can take classes at a Pilates studio or gym, watch YouTube videos, or even use home equipment.  

Hit the road   

  • Long-distance walking, running, biking, cycling, and other outdoor activities transform your lifestyle with fresh air that clears your mind.  

  • Additionally, outdoor spaces such as bike paths or local parks are places where you can have fun.  

  • Beautiful landscapes and locations, especially in spring and fall, can lift your mood, improve your mental health and add variety to your daily exercise routine.  


  • Kickboxing is a powerful way to reduce stress and anxiety.  

  • Thus, your mental focus improves. It involves controlled and disciplined arm and leg movements.   

  • Regular kickboxing training improves flexibility, balance and coordination. It’s also a great way to overcome stress, anxiety, and frustration. 


What Are The 4 Types Of Mental Health Disorders?  

It is important to recognise the different categories that encompass different mental health conditions to understand mental health. These categories address different aspects of mental health and provide a framework for promoting effective treatment strategies.   

1. Anxiety Disorder 

Anxiety disorders are characterised by excessive and persistent fear, worry, and worry. This can manifest itself as anxiety, irritability, panic attacks, and avoidance behaviour. Recognising and addressing anxiety disorders is important for maintaining mental health.   

2. Mood Disorders 

Depression and bipolar disorder have a significant impact on a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. Depression involves feelings of sadness and loss of interest, while bipolar disorder involves extreme mood swings between depression and mania. Effective management of mood disorders is essential to maintain stability.   

3. Psychotic Disorder 

Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia lead to loss of contact with reality. Common symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and social withdrawal. Addressing complex psychotic disorders requires comprehensive treatment and support.   

4. Eating Disorders 

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are associated with serious disturbances in eating patterns and body image. These disorders may manifest themselves as excessive dieting, overeating, or purging behaviours. Early identification and intervention are important in helping people with eating disorders. 


By understanding the four types of mental health and their conditions, people can gain insight into their mental health and determine the steps needed to find support and treatment.  



Mental Health Exercise Benefits  

Here are the top 10 benefits of good mental health exercises: 

1. A Better Night’s Sleep   

You must have felt that you couldn’t sleep and woke up on the wrong side of the bed for several days. You may feel grumpy, irritable, and in a bad mood. Moreover, long-term insomnia can be linked to several mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Regular exercise improves sleep quality and supports healthy brain function 

2. Sharpen Your Thinking   

Exercise is highly recommended for people of all age groups. Evidence-based research shows that concentration improves after exercise. In the long term, exercise may help fight brain ageing and Alzheimer’s disease by improving blood flow and increasing levels of important proteins in the brain.   

3. Increases Energy Levels  

Starting your day with physical activity releases endorphins in your brain, helping you feel more energised and ready to take on the rest of the day. Endorphins, often called “feel-good hormones,” can help you increase your energy levels, get you moving, reduce the perception of pain, and promote positive sensations in your body 


Physical activity also improves your cardiovascular health and stamina throughout the day. As your daily activities become easier, you will have more energy and won’t feel “slow” at the end of the day.   

4. Reduces The Risk Of Physical Health Problems   

Regular physical exercise brings benefits not only to your physical well-being but also to your mental health. Maintaining an active lifestyle helps manage your weight, strengthen your muscles and bones, and enhance your ability to perform daily activities.  


According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), individuals who engage in regular physical activity have a lower risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, all of which are associated with an increased risk of dementia. 

5. Confidence Improves  

Self-esteem and how positive you feel about yourself are essential to mental health. Good self-esteem can contribute to cognitive development, and it is said that self-esteem increases significantly after exercise. Exercising makes your body feel better physically and mentally, which in turn helps you have a better quality of life and a more positive attitude about yourself.   

6. Mood Enhancer   

You have probably heard of ‘runner’s high’, that feeling of happiness during or after exercise. This feeling of well-being comes from chemicals released when you are active. Exercise stimulates the release of chemicals like endorphins, endocannabinoids, and dopamine, which help improve mood, reduce anxiety, and promote calmness.   

7. Relieve Stress   

Every individual experiences stress; sometimes, a little stress isn’t a problem. However, when stress is intense and prolonged, it can cause changes in the brain, leading to physical and mental illness. Health experts recommend exercise as one of the most effective ways to relieve stress  



Physical activity and mental health exercise reduce stress hormones in the body, including adrenaline and cortisol. They also have positive effects on the cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems, further protecting the body from the harmful effects of stress. A morning walk, an afternoon jog, or a game of tennis with a friend are great ways to take a “break” from everyday life (and the worries that come with it) and keep your sanity.  

9. Relieve Anxiety   

Rhythmic activities and mental health exercises that require arm and leg movements, such as walking, running, swimming, martial arts, and dancing, are especially effective in reducing anxiety. Practising mindfulness is also recommended. 


10. Reduce Social Isolation  

Another benefit of mental health exercise is reducing social isolation. Different types of physical activity, including walking, swimming, and biking, encourage more frequent visits to public places such as beaches, public trails, and gyms. This helps reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation and allows you to connect with other people. It may also help you form new friendships or reconnect with people you previously lost touch with 



What Are 5 Ways To Improve Mental Health?  

Some mental health problems require the use of prescribed medications, usually combined with psychological treatment by a qualified professional. However, anyone can also take steps to improve their mental health.   

1. Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet   

Many studies have shown that consuming too much refined sugar or processed foods affects brain function and stresses organs such as the pancreas. They create a negative insulin response, releasing stress hormones like cortisol and increasing inflammation. These biological responses can worsen anxiety, depression, and low mood 

2. Get Enough Sleep   

People with poor mental health often have difficulty sleeping and are more likely to suffer from insomnia and sleep apnea than people with good mental health. Researchers have found that good sleep, especially deep REM sleep, is very important for the brain’s processing of emotional information. Sleep deprivation can interfere with the brain’s ability to integrate positive emotional data, which in turn can lead to more negative thoughts and behaviours.   

3. Exercise Regularly  

Exercise is a natural stress reliever. Being physically active positively changes your body chemistry, increasing dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels and improving your mood and focus. Exercise also helps you sleep better by relieving tension in your body and relaxing your muscles.    

4. Quit Smoking  

People with low mental health tend to smoke more than people with high mental health. People with mental illnesses like depression or anxiety may have low levels of dopamine in the brain, which affects positive emotions. Nicotine triggers the release of dopamine, so cigarettes may provide temporary relief. But smoking isn’t just bad for your physical health.  

5. Avoid Alcohol   

Many people drink alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. However, alcohol is a depressant that destroys neurotransmitters that affect emotions, thoughts, and behaviour.  


Although drinks may temporarily help relieve tension or reduce anxiety, their effects wear off quickly, and negative emotions may increase. Studies have shown that people who drink heavily are at greater risk for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and psychosis.    


How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health?  

Physical activity has enormous potential to improve our mental health. Even a 10-minute walk can enhance our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. Regular physical activity can boost our self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety 


Mental health exercises are activities or practices that help improve and maintain overall well-being. Doing things that are good for your body and mind releases ‘feel-good’ hormones (dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins), which help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.    


A new study shows that moderate exercise is good for your body and can also benefit your mental health. Researchers reached this conclusion after analysing responses from 1.2 million adults who responded to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey.  The peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry study examined the 2011, 2013, and 2015 survey results. Researchers found that, on average, people experience poor mental health for 3.4 days per month.    


However, among those who exercised, the number of days with poor mental health was reduced by more than 40%. Exercise can reduce depression or anxiety by changing the way your brain worksSo, the right combination of mental health exercises can help you feel better, have a more positive outlook on life, and cope better with stress. 



Expert Recommendation   

People can thrive and contribute to a healthier society by prioritising mental health. Recognising the importance of mental well-being can help people optimise their overall functioning, relationships, and quality of life. Mental health is not just an individual problem.  


It is a social issue that affects communities, workplaces and families. Through education, stigma, and accessible mental health care, we can create an environment where people feel supported and empowered to seek help when they need it.  


Lavina Chauhan 


The Final Say 

Mental health can be improved and trained just like the muscles in your body. Use the exercises above to increase your resilience, learn to regulate your emotions, and respond to change more productively and positively. The abovementioned mental health exercises are excellent for building concentration and willpower 


However, it is crucial to understand that mental health does not improve overnight, just like muscle training. Getting to where your heart wants to be takes time and effort. So, while it's natural to understand these feelings, being strong and motivated will help you move forward and strive to improve.   




1. What is the best exercise for mental health? 

Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. 


2. Explain the current exercise and mental health statistics in India. 

Despite the growing gym culture (20,000 gyms!), a significant portion of the Indian population remains physically inactive. Mental health struggles are also on the rise, with over 14% of the population suffering from mental disorders, highlighting the need for a more holistic approach to well-being in India. On average, people experience 3.4 days of poor mental health per month.  

3. Name the best mental health exercises for adults. 

Here are the best mental health exercises for depression and anxiety: 

  • Meditation  

  • Hiking 

  • Stretching 

  • Yoga Practice 

  • Dance 

4. Which are the best mental health exercises at home? 

Here are the best mental health exercises for students and adults to do at home: 

  • Gardening 

  • Deep breathing 

  • HIIT workout 

  • Sleep 

5. What’s the link between physical fitness and mental health? 

Physical activity, along with mental exercises, benefits your body and mind. Being active releases chemicals in your brain, making you feel good. It helps boost your self-esteem and enables you to concentrate, sleep, and feel better. 


6. How are physical exercise and mental health connected? 

Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. 



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