Most of us have the preconceived notion that in order to be good for us, exercise has to last a while and take a lot of energy. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a hard time even changing into workout gear if I know my workout is going to be shorter than 30 minutes. But as it turns out, there are surprising mental health benefits of just 10 minutes of exercise, that we've all got time for. Heck, even changing into sneakers hardly adds any time to that routine!
Researchers have found that just 10 minutes of moderate intensity exercise can leave you with improved sleep, stress relief, and an improved mood, according to a study published in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal Of Clinical Psychiatry. In fact, the article's authors even point out that exercise is often overlooked by mental health professionals and their patients as a credible intervention for ailments like depression or anxiety.
Certain exercises, as minimal as gardening or dancing, have been known to cause vast improvements in mood in patients with mental health issues, possibly "caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain and by an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis," the study explained. That term is as fancy as it is important; the HPA axis is involved in controlling motivation and mood, our response to stress, and memory formation, so we'd be well served to keep it stoked and supplied with blood!
Of course, it begs the question: How much time and energy do we need to spend pumping iron or running around the block in order to get these benefits? " minutes of exercise of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking for [three] days a week, is sufficient for these health benefits." suggested the researchers. However, you can split that 30 minutes up! "The authors of the study explain "three 10-minute walks are believed to be as equally useful as one 30-minute walk." And there's no way you can argue that's not worth changing into your sneakers for.