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Exercise & Fitness

How simply moving benefits your mental health

March 28, 2016

About the Author

photo of Srini Pillay, MD

Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Srini Pillay, M.D. ( is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Part-Time) at Harvard Medical School. After graduating as the overall top medical student in South Africa, he completed his residency in psychiatry at McLean Hospital—Harvard’s largest freestanding … See Full Bio
View all posts by Srini Pillay, MD


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May 11, 2016

If an anxious person with a high heart rate starts to run/exercise, would exercise increase their heart rate because it is already at a high level? Or would it decrease/stay the same because of exercise’s ability to calm stress/nerves?

May 10, 2016

This was a great article to read! It provided me with lots of information for my school project! I feel that I now understand how the mind and body are better connected through physical activity.


April 16, 2016

My brother recommended I may like this web site. He was once totally right. This post truly made my day. You can not consider just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

Joanna Telacka
April 15, 2016

what about Pilates? Pilates has many practical applications but at the core of it all is a series of controlled movements that restore the quiet body/mind connection. As a Pilates teacher and practitioner for over 16 years I see the positive and encouraging changes in my clients on daily basis.

Raj Kaul
April 1, 2016

Agree absolutely and keep up this great work , RK

April 1, 2016

Very well written. Easy to understand and follow.

Later on, please write about seizures in old age – forgetting, losing one’s surroundings, momentarlily losing oneself, reduced cognitive function, etc.

March 31, 2016

Hi Dr. Pillay,

Thank you for a great article. I am interested in any suggestions for chronic headaches. I walk regularly and I find that very helpful with acute pain, as walking relaxes my neck and shoulders possibly. But I am not able to find something to prevent chronic headaches even after working with a good neurologist for a few years. I am open to trying anything at this point and would be interested in the meditative type exercises that you have touched upon in this article. I think many of us are unable to deeply relax, and the discipline to practice traditional meditation in this busy lifestyle almost seems impossible to me. Some form of gentle repetitive movement type meditative exercise that relaxes and calms our brains may work for someone like me than sitting quietly with my eyes closed 🙂

What is your take on this….

Thank you!

Marcia L.W. Steinbrook
March 31, 2016

Nice to see that the well-done research supports anecdotal evidence for the value of movement for mental health. As a devotee of Zumba! dance, I have no doubt that this is true.

Bryan Young
March 31, 2016

Now a days Health is a very essential role in life and different types of exercise differ by the duration and intensity of muscular contractions involved, as well as by how energy is generated within the muscle.

March 31, 2016



Noelle morgan
March 29, 2016

Golf &. Yoga always bring oxygen to my brain and make me feel better

The more I keep up with golf & yoga
The less I eat
And therefore the better I feel

There is a direct connection between mind & body
They challenge each other & create energy through their interaction
& support our natural circle of life

Srini Pillay
March 31, 2016

Noelle—we really couldn’t have too many reminders of the mind-body connection. Thanks for your comment. “Unfocusing” from your daily routines is also a powerful way to recharge your brain. Glad that you’re implementing this in your life.

Sammy Kerre
March 29, 2016

Hi. I’ve noticed over the years that when I jog, I’m very positive, confident and have a can-do attitude. A few days after I stop, depressive thoughts come in, tasks become burdensome and participating in family activities seems like climbing Mt Everest. Thanks for opening my eyes.

Srini Pillay
March 31, 2016

Thanks for sharing your positive experience with jogging, Sammy. One lesson my personal trainer taught me is that your movement should only be limited by your imagination. Pain or mood, when obstructive, should be addressed to allow you to move.

Cecilia Wong
March 31, 2016

Yes, regularity is very important. Pretty soon the exercise itself becomes the reward.

When I first started my morning exercises, looking forward to my coffee was the reward – now I don’t want my coffee until I exercise because it makes me feel fresh and new ideas come for my writing.

March 29, 2016

Hello i am Cesar Cardenas and i reading the article related with how moving benefit the mental health,really I have interst to learn more abouted.
My regards

Srini Pillay
March 31, 2016

There’s so much out there Cesar. Here’s a study that shows that exercise can stop your bring from shrinking!

March 29, 2016

Dear’s Health Harvard.
Thanks for your published on different tips related health advices. And hope to see more information relating citica ” back pain ”
Regards, Alaa

Bernard Gauthier
March 28, 2016

This is a great article with plenty of good research. I had a craniotomy to remove a colloid cyst a little over a year ago and have found that exercise often has the reverse effect on my mood. Runs and work outs can leave me feeling anxious, depressed and generally scattered. I still do it because I value the physical benefits but I wonder why my brain is reacting to exercise this way, when I’ve been a regular exerciser for more than 30 years…

Vakil Saheb
March 29, 2016

Since you have been exercising regularly for 30 years, your body has become strong and you must understand the strong effect on the mood due to the surgery and how bad it could be if not for the regular exercise you have done for the past 30 years! Keep it up!

Srini Pillay
March 31, 2016

Bernard—It’s always best to discuss this with your PCP and surgeon. There are some studies that show that for certain CNS diseases in animals, exercise may not be beneficial ( . In humans, exercise has been shown to exacerbate some inflammatory conditions ( Also, overtraining or high volume exercise can be detrimental to mood ( That said, for every individual, this is different. This is a great question to ask your current doctor so that you can weigh the risks and benefits moving forward.

Lisa Wilder-Cappoli
March 28, 2016

More proof of the power of movement in our lives! Great info here.

March 28, 2016

Excellent information with references as to how the organic body associates with functioning Mind. Healthy Body relates to healthy Mind more frequently than unhealthy Body association to unhealthy Mind.

Sandra M Boletchek
March 28, 2016

Your articles are inspiring and than you. Sandra M. Boletchek

Srini Pillay
March 31, 2016

Thank you for reading and for your comment. If you have any requests for other topics, please feel free to request.

March 28, 2016

Very interesting and usefull. I’ll put them in practice.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

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