This guest article was provided by MINES Affiliate trainer Michelle Zellner. Michelle is the founder/owner of BetterBeings and is a Keynote Speaker, Corporate Wellbeing Trainer, Author, Health and Happiness Strategist, Creator of the YOU Revolution, and Host of the Be a Better Being Podcast.

May is Mental Health Awareness AND Sports and Physical Activity Month. How appropriate that the two are celebrated together as movement is one of the most effective tools for supporting and enhancing mental wellbeing. What’s truly incredible is, that no matter what you do, your brain will benefit. Come along as I show you all the ways you can move for your mind.

1. Cardio Exercise

The brain needs oxygen and nutrition to develop and perform at an optimal level. Elevating heart rate is a great way to increase blood flow, delivering an abundance of valuable resources. The endorphins released act as natural pain relievers and promote a sense of calm. An influx of dopamine and serotonin helps regulate mood and you will likely experience enhanced overall emotional well-being and feel more capable of handling life’s challenges.

Walk, wiggle, jog, jump, hike, bike, scramble or skip—proceed with your preference. As long as the heart rate is elevated your noggin will be nourished!

2. Strength Training

Do you struggle to lift or carry things and worry that you will injure yourself? Do you dread a particular activity because it is physically difficult? Are you missing out on adventure because you don’t have the strength to accomplish or enjoy it?

From daily tasks to life experiences, our confidence and capabilities are perpetually impacting our mental and emotional well-being. Physical strength opens up a world of possibilities to lead a full and fulfilling life.

The work to become physically strong also offers mental health benefits. Each time you choose to challenge your muscles, you are proving you can do hard things. The discipline of consistency is a trait that governs the path to success in all areas of life. The pride you develop builds confidence and self-esteem.

Life is easier and more enjoyable when you are strong. Lift some heavy things and watch yourself flourish.

3. Yoga

The mental health benefits of this mind-body practice have been touted for decades. In addition to resetting the nervous system from high alert to peaceful calm, the brain training going on is literally changing your mind. Each time your thoughts drift off the mat, you gently coax your attention back, building the skill to redirect your focus. As you manage a full schedule of daily to-dos a wandering mind is often not helpful. Your awareness and the ability to be present is not only useful for productivity (which makes us feel good) but shifting out of the past or future also squashes a cortisol release.

Find a class or scout out a video, bring your mind to the mat, and soothe your soul. Devote to the practice and see yourself soar.

4. Choreographed Activities

Tai-Chi, dance routines, martial arts—any activity that requires instruction, memory, and multi-system coordination offers a well-rounded brain boost. The struggle of the steps leads to joy in mastering the moves. You can find yourself in flow with the repetition of rhythmic patterns. Depending on the activity, you will be energized or relaxed.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Practice patience and practice until perfect. You’ll start to see yourself differently, and I bet you’ll like it.

5. Organized Sports

Sports, whether team or individual, offers so many opportunities to support mental health. Facing and overcoming challenges are embedded in the nature of every sport. Problem-solving, determination, and perseverance are tested and tackled, building foundational skills that translate off the field, court, mat, etc.

Team sports, as well as other group activities, offer a shared experience that bonds the participants. Working as a unit toward a common goal presents opportunities to give and receive support and whether celebrating or commiserating, the social connection is crucial for mental well-being.

Find a league, join a club, or gather a group. Camaraderie and competition are ingrained in our DNA. Feed this need and you’ll be good as gold.

Connecting these dots, it’s clear why movement is magical for your mind. Perhaps the most obvious and simplest explanation of all—you generally feel good when you know you’ve done something good! With the variety of options available, you can customize a prescription to suit your needs.

Work off some stress with a high-intensity activity. If you are looking to bring peace and calm into your life, opt for a slower-paced, mindful practice. Join others for the social support, or go solo for some “you time.” Do any of the above while out in nature for an additional mental health boost.

There is no denying a daily dose of exercise will make you healthy, happy, and wise!

Do yourself a favor and get your move on!

To Your Wellbeing,

The MINES Team