Exercise is good for your health. FACT.
You would have to have been living under a rock for the past however many years to not be aware of this. Exercise can do all sorts of amazing things for our bodies. It has multiple effects on multiple fronts including not only making us feel better but being physically active reduces our risk for all sorts of nasty health conditions such as heart disease, some cancers, and Type 2 diabetes. I am sure you know this. We’ve heard it all before (it’s not the knowledge that we have trouble with, it is more the doing bit we need help with).
So in regards to seeing clients with psychological health issues such as anxiety and depression, I always make sure that before they head out my door, I have enquired about physical activity levels. And, I bet there is not a psychologist around the place who would not tell their client who might be suffering from stress, anxious or depressive symptoms, to exercise as much as they can in order to get better.
Exercise is the single BEST thing you can do for your brain.
1. Improves Mood
Not only does exercise improve negative mood states such as anxiety and depressive type symptoms, but it also increases positive mood states such as revitalization and feelings of wellbeing. Being physically active helps raise your self worth, self-esteem and improves confidence. Remember back to when you were most confident….was your body moving more then?
2. Reduces Stress
One of the common benefits of exercise is stress relief, as well as stress resilience. Not only does it reduce physical stress that builds up during the day but also the mental stress. The ‘runners high’ we feel after moving our bodies is associated with a drop in stress hormones. Because it helps alleviate stress, that makes us feel as fresh as a daisy (i.e. more resilient) the following day to cope with new stressors.
3. Boosts Your Happy Chemicals
Exercise releases endorphins into your body, which are your ‘natural opiates’. That’s why you feel so euphoric, happy and energized after exercising. Exercise is the perfect anti-depressant for people who are feeling down.
4. Your Brain Loves It
Exercise aids the bodily release of a plethora of hormones, which nourishes the environment for the growth of brain cells and improves brain plasticity. It prevents cognitive decline.
5. Improves Your Sleep
Who doesn’t want their sleep to improve? The flow on effect of exercising is a better sleep. Good sleep allows your body to rest and replenish itself for the day. During this time your long term memory also can consolidate everything from the day, which will improve learning
6. Reduces Anxiety
Anxiety makes people feel just blah. All that worry during the day leaves your body full of negative energy (and chemicals). Doing a bit of exercise helps people with anxiety disorders calm down.
7. Generally Improves Your Life
Taking part in physical activities gives people many opportunities. It gives you a sense of purpose, gives you a well-deserved break from the daily grind as well as being a great way to meet people.
So what is your exercise routine looking like at the moment? Not doing any at the moment? Start thinking of what you could start with. Build up slowly at a pace that suits you. Don’t like exercising? Then create opportunities to establish new routines whereby you are moving a little bit more (take the stairs!). What do you love doing? It is much easier to do things you don’t like doing if you are either with other people or have an enjoyable thing to do at the same time (I built up some neat biceps last year, all whilst watching a TV series. Breaking Bad = Marny do weights).
If you are feeling less than energetic about any of the above to do any of this, a little word of wisdom, it’s the things we don’t really feel like doing that are going to put us back on the path to feeling better. Even if you don’t feel like it at first, try and push yourself, you will feel better afterwards. Trust me. You will get a huge endorphin rush even after a tiny bit of moving, and after a couple of weeks, your body will be pushing you to go without you even thinking!
Never underestimate the power of moving that body of yours. We have evolved this way. We are supposed to be moving it. If you look after your body physically it will give you back so much more.