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Exercise boosts the brain - and mental health

Greenwich Time: 'It's hardly news that exercise is good for your physical health, and has long been extolled as beneficial for mental health, as well. But researchers are now making progress in understanding how exercise works its mental magic....

'Exercise, they are learning, has profound effects on the brain's structure itself, and it also provides other, more subtle benefits such as focus, a sense of accomplishment and sometimes social stimulation - all of which are therapeutic in their own right. And while more is generally better, even modest levels of physical activity, such as a daily walk, can pay big dividends for mental health.

'"It's a very potent intervention to be physically active," says Anders Hovland, a clinical psychologist at the University of Bergen in Norway. But that knowledge has barely begun to percolate into practice, says Joseph Firth, a mental health researcher at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. Just ask a hundred people receiving mental health care how many are getting exercise prescriptions as part of that care. "You wouldn't find many," Firth says.'

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