For millions, depression and anxiety are crippling disorders which negatively impact their lives. But, did you know regular exercise can help improve your mood and reduce stress? Learn how exercise can help you reduce stress, and see how you can get started.

How does exercise relieve stress?

Exercise helps relieve stress in many ways. First, exercise triggers your body to release endorphins. What are endorphins? Endorphins are the chemicals inside your brain that make you feel good, and are nature’s form of morphine. Endorphins are so powerful, they can make you feel happy and serve as a natural pain killer. Sounds crazy right? Ask any runner and they will tell you they get “runners high,” or a feeling of euphoria associated with a long run.

Exercise also helps relieve stress by getting your mind off your worries for a while. As you fatigue your body, you require more focus to push through your workout. Your brain will spend less energy on your stress, and more on getting you across the finish line.

Regular exercise helps improve your mood. When you exercise, you feel a sense of accomplishment for taking steps to improve. Exercise also helps you gain confidence as you see the results of your hard work start to pay off. Regular exercise also helps you sleep better, which gives you better focus and helps you get through the day.

How to get started with an exercise program

Get checked out You need to consult your doctor before any lifestyle change. If you haven’t exercised in a while or may have some underlying health issues, it’s important you get checked out so you don’t end up injuring yourself.

Set goals and find a program Do you want to run a 5k? Great! Learn how to start running. If you’re looking for general fitness, find a program that incorporates cardiovascular activity, strength training and flexibility. I do Focus T25 and quickly lost 25 pounds.

Find an accountability partner Find someone who will motivate you and help you stay on track. You will find that some of your friends may not be as supportive as you would like. There are many reasons for this (often jealousy)! You need to find somebody who will encourage you to accomplish your goals and cheer you on, every step of the way. Don’t know anyone? Contact me, and I’ll cheer you on!

Get moving! Your doctor says you’re good to go. You’ve found a great program, and you have a supportive accountability partner. Now it’s time to get off the couch and get moving. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you may need to start out slow. Just be consistent and you’ll notice a difference in your mood (and health) in no time.

Dustin Gustafson is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach.