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As little as 10 minutes of regular exercise can help alleviate depression. But even professionals don’t always make the link between mental and physical health. One convert explains how it helped her

I once lived a life almost ruled by anxiety, intrusive thoughts and paralysing fear. I spent years looking for the thing that would release me, and when I finally found it, it wasn’t medication or therapy (although both helped). It was running. It gave me a feeling that there was a world out there beckoning me, promising hope; it gave me independence and the sense that I had reserves of strength that I wasn’t aware of.

There are many reasons that physical activity is said to help mental health – it boosts mood, relieves stress and improves sleep. I also find that cardio exercise can use up some of the adrenaline caused by anxiety. My panic attacks stopped, intrusive thoughts lessened and a looming sense of doom was pushed back.

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