Exercise is Medicine: Daily Movement for Mental Health
Exercise is my Daily Dose
I need it to feel calm, happy and creative!
EXERCISE IS MEDICINE. This is my number one motivator for moving my body every single day! If you don’t know this about me, depression and anxiety is something that I still struggle with. For me, my body and mood go through the cycles. I can pinpoint the times of the year when I will feel the depression coming on (fall and winter) and I know what behaviors and mindset will trigger my anxiety...hello stress and negativity.
Over the years I have learned that the best thing I can do to help prevent this and feel my best all year round is to listen to my body to really give it what it needs to feel nourished, and CARE for it. Daily movement is a huge part of my non-negotiable self-care routine. I need it to feel calm, happy and creative!
It’s not just me... recent studies show that physical activity is identified as a protective factor against the risk of developing depression and is proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Not only that, individuals who are diagnosed with depression and participate in aerobic exercise regularly show significant improvements in depression comparable to participants receiving pharmacological treatment. Exercise is the medicine, so let exercise help YOU. Set aside a quick 20-30 minutes and get your daily dose!
There are two types of movement that benefit your mental health the most:
- Aerobic means steady state cardio. Examples of this would be running, spinning, skipping, swimming, walking, hiking, dancing or kickboxing.
- Moderate Intensity Training
- Don’t let the word intensity intimidate you! Moderate intensity training just refers to movement that gets you moving fast or strenuously enough to burn off three to six times as much energy per minute as you do when you are sitting quietly. This could be a brisk walk, gardening, or a steady bike ride.
This all sounds great, right?! However, let’s be real for a second. If you're anything like me when you’re experiencing depression, exercise is the last thing you want to do. Trust me when I say that I know the struggle of even leaving your bed or couch to get anything accomplished when you're not feeling yourself. BUT, if I can get moving then so can you! If you’re feeling down and unmotivated, from my experience, one of the best things you can do is seek motivation from another person. Having an accountable workout buddy, personal trainer, coach or class instructor will help you get moving and stay on track!
Daily movement can do wonders for your body. So schedule it in as much as you can to reap the benefits, beauty!
References: Velten, Julia, et al. "Lifestyle Choices and Mental Health: A Longitudinal Survey with German and Chinese Students." BMC Public Health, vol. 18, no. 1, 16 May 2018.