By Jennifer Seigworth
I write a lot about health and well-being, being empowered and taking care of oneself. I try to list simple ways to make the best of life.
But, I was thinking about it recently — I do not mention a very important part of our lives that contributes to physical and mental health. Exercise.
Frankly, I think I omit it from most of my articles because I am not a fan. I have joked with my family that I am built to be a writer, not an athlete. I wish it were not true, but it is.
If you get excited about working out and even competitive sports, then good for you! You probably already know the difference it can make. This article will tell you why.
So, let’s take a minute to talk about the benefits of moving more.
Doctors say that physical activity is better than simply being sedentary.
Obviously, the physical effects of exercise help our mental outlook. This is because it helps with weight control, lowers blood pressure and can help regulate blood glucose levels.
This helps promote a more positive outlook on life.
But, for mental health, physical activity can help with depression and anxiety by accessing the endorphins in the body.
These are the “feel good” chemicals that produce happy feelings and a euphoric state of mind.
In fact, this is so powerful in combatting symptoms of anxiety and depression, that most doctors suggest exercise as the first recommendation before prescription medication.
Another study showed the mind-body connection is said to help those suffering from PTSD, by putting the person into a mindful state, focusing on how the body feels in the moment of exercise and reducing the tendency for the fight or flight mode.
When we are moving and increasing the heart rate, there are increases in the hormones of norepinephrine and serotonin, which are the very hormones in some prescription medications given to combat anxiety and depression.
These hormones help to decrease the effects of stress and improve the ability to think clearly and focus one’s thoughts. This process reduces overall stress and makes for a healthier mindset.
One of the most important ways that physical activity improves the whole person — mind and body — is improving sleep.
When the body is active during the day, the body naturally needs more rest.
Exercise, while increasing energy during the day, makes a person feel more tired when it is time for bed.
You may achieve a deeper and more restful sleep.
Just for the record, I am taking my own advice.
My children gave me a puppy for Mother’s Day and my activity level has definitely increased!
I cannot put off the walk or the yard play, as I could without a new puppy.
He demands that I spend time outdoors and doing a lot of bending and stretching inside the house as well as he lives out his puppy ways.
While this may not be the way to get more exercise for everyone, it is a mutual labor of love that is working for me.