Exercise, or simply movement, has a wide range of positive effects. Physically, moving your body throughout the day, rather than sitting sedentary, can help you tremendously. Movement increases blood flow, improves breathing, supplements heart health, and more. But what about the psychological effects of exercise?
Studies have shown that exercise, or low-impact movement, can improve your mental health as well as your physical. Exercise can be used to supplement treatment of mild to moderate depression. It can be used to counteract anxiety, and it can greatly reduce stress.
Additionally, regular movement can help reduce the symptoms of ADHD and PTSD. Even if your life isn’t greatly impacted by any of these things, exercise can still result in stronger emotional resilience, sharper memory, higher self-worth, a better night’s sleep, and more energy throughout your day.
I don’t want you to think that I’m advocating that you set out to run a marathon tomorrow! If you’re just getting started incorporating exercise into your life – start small. Twenty to thirty minutes of movement a day is often enough to reap the physical benefits of exercise and release the endorphins that help you sleep better, overcome feelings of anxiety or depression, build emotional resilience, and more.
Most importantly, I encourage you to find a form of movement that brings you joy. The easiest way to incorporate movement into your life is to look forward to the activity. Schedule time out of your busy day for a bike ride to the park, or walk to work in the morning and enjoy the sunrise. If you enjoy cardio work, try signing up for a 5k that benefits a charity that’s near and dear to your heart. If you prefer low-impact exercise, consider yoga or tai chi.
The exercise you choose needs to speak to you and fill you with a sense of accomplishment and joy. Your options are endless, so don’t be afraid to try new things. Take a class, practice a new form of exercise in your home, or simply have a dance in your kitchen while you cook yourself dinner. You never know when you’ll stumble upon a form of movement that positively impacts your life and your mental health! Embrace the experience!