By: Lindsey Anuzis, MA, LCMHCA, NCC, RBT
In the words of Elle Woods – “Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy!” I love Reese Witherspoon regardless, but this quote from Legally Blonde holds some merit to it as well!
Typically when a person considers the health benefits of exercise, only physical ones come to mind. For example, you may think about increasing strength, improving your heart health, reducing blood pressure, improving lung capacity, or build lean muscles. What people often forget, is that exercise is incredibly beneficial for mental health as well!
Exercise can improve our mood and our ability to think! Going back to that Elle Woods quote, endorphins are hormones that improve your mood, and, when exercising, our bodies release endorphins, making us feel better! This can help with reducing symptoms related to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and social withdrawal! Exercise doesn’t just have to mean going for a run or lifting weights either. This could be going for a brisk walk, playing with a dog, riding a bike, or even practicing yoga!
Studies have found that while exercise can improve mood, it can also improve our cognitive functioning. Some benefits from regular exercise include improved concentration, a sharper memory, extended mental stamina, increased creativity, reduced stress, and even better sleep! A mid-day exercise break can be an effective tool if your kids are struggling with virtual school, or for parents, who may be struggling to wear 15 different hats each day!
So why is it that with all these known benefits we still struggle to regularly exercise?
For many of us, we believe we don’t have enough time, which, in some cases is a valid explanation. However, I want to challenge this idea, because what many of us mean by not having time, is that given the time we do have available, exercise just isn’t a priority. Exercise is something we often perceive as a luxury, something we’d like to do if we had more time or money. But that doesn’t have to be the case! You can acquire all the physical, and mental health benefits right from the comfort of your own home in just a short period!
First and foremost to keep up with exercising, you need to engage in an activity you enjoy, that way it won’t seem like as much of a chore. The more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to make time for it, and stick with it! Additionally, the way we feel during, and about exercise can also impact our results! Instead of settling for something vague like “getting exercise”, focus on mastery and improving performance, or completing a specific goal- check out my blog post on SMART goals for more tips on how to do this!
Finally, accountability goes a long way! Join virtual classes, or engage in socially distanced exercise activities with friends. This will help you stay motivated, and schedule the time to get moving. Feeling better and getting healthier is possible! So, get up, get moving, and start to see the results!