Move Your Body, Boost Your Mind

As social distancing drags on, people are experiencing more stress, increased symptoms of depression and anxiety, and an uptick in mental health disorders.

Research shows that moving your body is one way to combat the doom and gloom of COVID-19.

You probably already know that walking has numerous health benefits on your body such as strengthening muscles, supporting joints, and improving circulation. But its not just your heart and muscles that benefit. In fact, regular exercise has been found to have a profoundly positive impact on mental health. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.

A study found that exercise can be as effective as medication and psychotherapies. One way that movement can boost mood is by increasing a brain protein called BDNF that helps nerve fibers grow, making you feel happier. Accredited Exercise Scientist, Mitchell Finn explains going for a walking and increasing steps can significantly improve your mood and make you a happier and healthier individual overall.

“When you exercise, it increases endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid — these are all brain chemicals associated with feeling happy, feeling confident, feeling capable, feeling less anxiety and stress and even less physical pain.”

HOW TO INCREASE MOVEMENT IN YOUR DAY

There are many ways to make walking better for you and to suit whatever lifestyle you may have. Mitchell shares some tips on how to get started:

TRACK IT

Whether you are new to walking and exercise or are an avid gym junkie, tracking your steps is an easy and reliable way to set goals, track movement and get a great understand of how many steps it actually takes you to walk from A to B. A review of pedometer research studies found that people who set a goal with a pedometer were more likely to increase their physical activity, lose weight and lower their blood pressure. Suddenly, you’ll start finding ways to add steps by:

    • Parking further from your destination
    • Adding a stroll on your breaks and lunches
    • Taking the stairs rather than the elevator
    • Enjoying an evening walking with loved ones

In addition, sign up to the 10,000 Steps program to start tracking your steps.

TRIPLE YOUR MOVES

It’s easier to add to something you are already doing, rather than doing something new. For example, if your taking your dog on a walk around the block, circle the block three times. If you walk to the mailbox at home or printer at work, take three trips.

FIND A FRIEND

Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to go for a walk after work. In fact, that’s why exercising with a friend or loved one can be a huge benefit. Suggest a daily or weekly routine, and make the commitment, helping each other along the way to achieve goals. Here’s a list of reasons why you should walk with a buddy:

    • It’s more fun exercising with a friend
    • You’re more likely to stick to your commitment
    • You’re more likely to succeed in your goal
    • You’ll work harder with someone else around

 

GETTING STARTED

“The recommended daily exercise amount is 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week, which works out to be 30 minute a day, 5 days a week,” Mitchell said. However, some exercise is better than none at all. If you need help getting started or you’d like some professional advice specific to you, see an Accredited Exercise Physiologist or Accredited Exercise Scientist.

Click here to find one near you!

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