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AlisonBrill Posted by Alison T. Brill, MPH, Community Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Being active isn’t just for maintaining a healthy weight. It also reduces your risk for all kinds of chronic diseases and helps you feel more confident. What’s more, being physically active is a fun and effective way to boost your mood.

When I’m feeling anxious, upset, stressed or low energy, I grab my helmet, hop on my bike and hit the road. Other times, I’ll call up a friend and shoot hoops, or go for a long walk at a good pace. When it’s too rainy or snowy (as we know well in Massachusetts), I go to my local gym and spend about 30 minutes rocking the elliptical, pumping iron or taking one of the many classes my gym offers. When I’m done, I feel so much better – both physically and mentally. My head is clear and I feel a sense of relief – like a weight has been lifted (literally and figuratively), and I can face my problems. Sometimes after I work out, whatever big problem I was worrying about doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. Why? Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins from the brain. These hormones are like our body's natural painkillers, increasing a sense of well-being and relieving stress.  WomanRideBike

Being active can also help keep mild depression away, by boosting energy and improving sleep. Research has shown that people who are not physically active are twice as likely to suffer from depression as active people. And that’s not all - studies have shown that regular, vigorous activity can even reduce symptoms of depression to a similar degree as antidepressant drugs. Now that’s pretty powerful!

For information and tips on how to get moving, improve your health and have fun, visit Mass in Motion.

What kinds of activities make you feel great?

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