6 Exercises and How They Benefit Your Body and Mind

By Erica Patino
Reviewed by Susan Ko, Ph.D.
January 30, 2023

It’s long been established that exercise is good for your body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity can help you manage your weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and make it easier to do your everyday activities. And running for just 15 minutes a day—or walking for one hour a day—may reduce the risk of major depression, according to a 2019 study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Exercise also gives your mind a major boost because it lowers your levels of cortisol and epinephrine, which are stress hormones. Although it's been commonly thought that exercising causes an increase of endorphins, research suggests it may actually boost a different type of brain chemical called norepinephrine, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). This helps your brain handle stress more efficiently. In addition, the APA says exercise can actually improve your memory, cognition, and other brain functions.

Whether you’re looking to start exercising or just change up your existing routine, remember that any form of physical activity is beneficial, as long as you do it safely. “Exercise is medicine, so find some activities that you enjoy and can do regularly,” says Tracy Zaslow, M.D., a primary care sports medicine doctor at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles and a team physician for Angel City Football Club and the LA Galaxy.