In 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults, stating that adults between the ages of eighteen and sixty-four should moderately exercise for two and a half hours or vigorously exercise for one hour and fifteen minutes weekly. When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, exercise ranks one of the highest on the list of importance. Exercise can have an effect on overall health and well being and has many benefits that improve quality of life. Exercise can improve quality of life by improving mental health, strengthening the brain and boosting confidence. Recent studies show that many types of exercise, from walking to cycling, make people feel better and can even relieve symptoms of depression. Exercise encourages the body to release endorphins, which create a feeling of happiness or euphoria. “The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong,” Michael Otto, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Boston University, says. “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.” In some cases, exercise can even be as effective as antidepressants. Doctors recommend that patients who suffer from depression and anxiety pencil in plenty of time for the gym. In another recent study, researchers discovered that exercise encourages the body to fight off drug and alcohol cravings. Stress activates dopamine, which induces drug and alcohol cravings; galanin, on the other hand, has been shown to fight dopamine, meaning, someone who exercises is less prone to relapse than someone who doesn’t exercise. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why exercise changes the structure and function of the brain, but there’s plenty of evidence to support the active study. Being inactive increases the chances of developing dementia by 82% while being active just one hour per week can cut the chances in half. In 2014, researchers discovered that chronic exercise activates the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which encourages the production of new brain cells. The production of new brain cells sharpens long term and short term memory in the brain. Joseph Firth, a NICM postdoctoral research fellow, claims, “The brain-derived neurotrophic factor may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain.” It may also help people focus, according to new research. Exercise improves confidence because the person will leave feeling accomplished and the physical changes in the body are very rewarding. Exercise reduces bodywide inflammation, helps regulate skin-significant hormones and prevents free radical damage. The nutrients delivered to the skin allow help fibroblasts work more effectively, leaving the skin looking healthier. Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina, explains, “When you exercise your muscles generate a lot of heat, which you have to give up to the environment so your body doesn’t get too high. The heat in the muscle transfers to the blood, which shuttles it to the skin; it can then escape to the atmosphere.” Physical activities that stretch and strengthen muscle at the same time, like yoga or pilates, can correct poor posture and add height. Maintaining proper posture lengthens the torso and creates a long, lean profile, which makes the body appear taller and thinner. These simple benefits of physical activity will encourage people to love themselves and eventually become more confident. Exercise has countless benefits that improve quality including improvement of mental health, strengthening the brain and boosting confidence. There are many benefits that everyone can experience from exercising and the possibilities are endless, exercise is completely personal and depends on how hard the person is willing to work. The health benefits of exercise depend on the longer, harder and more often a person partakes in physical activity; although, even the smallest amount of exercise could make a big difference. At the end of the day, motivating factors don’t matter as long as the physical activity is being done. Every one should find an exercise program that they enjoy to improve quality of life.