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Knockout the negative effects of stress

Taking a stroll on the treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes can tranquilize your tension by increasing  levels of serotonin and dopamine. What's interesting though, is that exercise may actually work on a cellular level to reverse stress's toll on our aging process, according to a 2010 study from the University of California - San Francisco. The researchers found that stressed-out women who exercised vigorously for an average of 45 minutes over a three-day period had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to women who were stressed and inactive. Working out also helps keep us from pondering "by altering blood flow to those areas in the brain involved in triggering us to relive these stressful thoughts again and again, " says study coauthor Elissa Epel, an associate professor of psychiatry at UCSF.

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Builds self-esteem & leaves you feeling exhilarated

You don't have to entirely change your body shape to get a confidence boost from exercise. Studies suggest that simply seeing fitness improvements, like running a faster mile or lifting more weight than before, can improve your self esteem. Ever heard of a "runner's high"?

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Think exercise is all about toned abs and weight loss?

What if I told you it could make you happier and smarter? Maybe you exercise to tone your thighs, build your biceps, or flatten your tummy. Or, maybe you work out to prevent heart disease or diabetes. But how about sweating to improve your mind? "Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning," says Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Ratey, author of the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. "Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain." If you need a little extra incentive to lace up those sneakers, complicated activities like playing tennis or taking a dance class provide the biggest boost. "You're challenging your brain even more when you have to think about coordination," explains Ratey. "Like muscles, you have to stress your brain cells to get them to grow."

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Improve your mental health

Research suggests that burning off 350 calories three times a week through sustained, sweat-inducing activity can reduce symptoms of depression about as effectively as antidepressants. That may be because exercise appears to stimulate the growth of neurons in certain brain regions damaged by depression. A 2010 study found that three sessions of yoga per week boosted participants' levels of the brain chemical GABA, which typically translates into improved mood and decreased anxiety. Yoga can be used to complement - not substitute - drug treatment for depression, the researchers said. According to a WebMD article, a group exercise class may be beneficial to those with depression because strong social support is important. Or you can exercise with a close friend or spouse. In doing so, you will benefit from the physical activity and emotional comfort, knowing that others are supportive of you.

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Improve your mental health

Research suggests that burning off 350 calories three times a week through sustained, sweat-inducing activity can reduce symptoms of depression about as effectively as antidepressants. That may be because exercise appears to stimulate the growth of neurons in certain brain regions damaged by depression. A 2010 study found that three sessions of yoga per week boosted participants' levels of the brain chemical GABA, which typically translates into improved mood and decreased anxiety. Yoga can be used to complement - not substitute - drug treatment for depression, the researchers said. According to a WebMD article, a group exercise class may be beneficial to those with depression because strong social support is important. Or you can exercise with a close friend or spouse. In doing so, you will benefit from the physical activity and emotional comfort, knowing that others are supportive of you.