Five ways exercise benefits your emotional wellness
You pledged to walk more this year, but are you making it happen? It can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise, even though it benefits us in so many ways. Psychiatrist R. Shea Fontana, DO, explained how exercise benefits our mental health and shared tips to help get us moving.
“Physical exercise is strongly linked to a healthy mind. A little bit of daily exercise can go a long way,” said Dr. Fontana. Physical activity looks different for everyone and that is okay. The important thing is to commit to moving your body daily.
Dr. Fontana said exercise is beneficial because:
- It promotes changes in the brain. Evidence has shown that physical activity can help neural growth, reduce inflammation and release endorphins – helping you feel energized and promoting positive emotions.
- It sharpens the memory. Individuals who engage in physical exercise may experience less age-related memory concerns. Endorphins are released that can help with concentration; neuronal growth helps prevent age-related cognitive decline.
- It improves mood and self-esteem. Numerous studies have shown that exercise acts as a natural antidepressant. Regular activity can foster one’s sense of self-worth while also taking the mind off any worries. Physical activity helps promote mindfulness and gratitude.
- It stimulates the body. Exercise helps circulate blood flow, which not only has a direct impact on the brain, but other areas as well. Our digestive system and immune response system can also benefit from regular activity.
- It improves sleep. Moderate exercise in the morning or early afternoon can help regulate sleep patterns. If nighttime routines are preferred, try to do something like yoga or gentle stretching so your heart rate does not elevate too much prior to bed.
She also offered these tips to help you stay motivated when exercising.
- Moderation is key.
- Start small in terms of time and energy spent per day exercising.
- Schedule your workouts ahead of time and for when you feel as though your energy is at its highest point in the day.
- Focus on doing activities you enjoy.
- Remember to exercise within your means. Listen to your body and how it responds to various exercises.
“Every step you take on your wellness journey is a step toward becoming physically and emotionally fit,” said Dr. Fontana.
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