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New research just revealed exactly how long the ideal workout is… and it could be shorter than you think!

Of course, we’ve known for years that exercise is “good for you” physically. But scientists wanted to find out once and for all if exercise was good for your mental health… and if so, how much do you really need?

Researchers from Yale University and the University of Oxford studied data from 1.2 million Americans — an absolutely massive undertaking.

And what researchers found when they looked over that data? There IS such a thing as “too much exercise.”

For optimum mental health benefits, you want to exercise a bit — but not too much.

All you need is 45 minutes, 3–5 times a week. In fact, more than that could actually be detrimental to your health.1

Because people who exercised more than that actually bad days more frequently — and were at a higher risk for poor mental health behaviors. That’s why experts recommend keeping your exercise sessions to no more than 23 days a month, and no longer than 90 minutes a session.

According to the study, 4 exercises are the best options for improving your mental health:

1. Team Sports

Play a pickup game of basketball or soccer at a local park near you. Or, sign up for an “adults-only” league of your favorite sport. You could even volunteer to coach youth sports to get a little exercise in, while sharing your love of the sport with the next generation.

2. Cycling

Gyms like SoulCycle seem to be popping up all over the place. Some studios even help you track how far you’ve pedaled, or how many calories you’ve burned. And of course — there’s nothing like a good old fashioned bike ride. (Just make sure you wear a helmet!)

3. Aerobics

This is a GREAT way to get in a good workout — but the best thing about aerobics is that you can do it so many ways. Take a dance class, run on a treadmill, or even join a class in the pool for water aerobics. Anything that gets your heart rate pumping at a steady rate works!

Too Much Exercise | Activated You4. Going to the Gym

This one is the most versatile! Because you can actually do a little of everything at your local gym. Many have basketball courts, dance classes, water aerobics, running tracks, treadmills, and even cycling classes! You’re totally in control of what you do and how long you stay — so this is a great option for anyone who likes a little variety in their routine.

No matter what you like to do to exercise, just keep in mind you don’t have to go crazy to get all the benefits. A short workout a few times a week is plenty to help you feel great — physically and mentally.

1. Chekroud S, Gueorguieva R, Zheutlin A et al. Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2018.doi:10.1016/s2215-0366(18)30227-x