There are so many benefits of exercise. It’s good for your heart, your brain, your muscles, your bones, and helps you maintain (or reach) a healthy body composition. But it also makes us happy. In fact, movement is an effective strategy for both the treatment and prevention of mental health conditions.
This is because physical activity has a profound effect on the brain and nervous system. When you move your body, your brain produces endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline, and endocannabinoids, all of which help you feel good and improve your mood.
In addition, movement reduces the effects of stress on the body, and allows us to manage our response to stress in a more positive way. Physical activity gives us a sense of achievement, and even improves our self-esteem.
You don’t have to run an ultra-marathon to reap the benefits, all levels of movement are beneficial. Here are some ways that you can find the joy of movement in your life:
A little sip of movement, just 3-10 minutes long, can reset your mood. It can shift you out of a bad interaction, help you regain your focus on a task, and give you an energy boost. This little bout of physical activity can be literally anything that feels good- jumping jacks, stretching, a jog up a flight of stairs, or my personal favorite, dancing. You can really get added benefits by adding music to your movement. Try taking a pause in your day, turn on a favorite song and dance to it. You will be amazed at how much happier you feel!
There is something about being in the great outdoors that can really help boost your mood. I often prescribe time outdoors to my patients, knowing that being in nature can help us to feel more connected, grounded, and rejuvenated. A short 10-15 minutes of activity outside can greatly change your perspective and help lower your stress. You can intensify the positive effects of outdoor movement by removing distractions like music or your phone and just focus on the beauty and glory of the nature around you.
Doing 20-60 minutes a day of a physical movement that is challenging has profound effects on your mental health. This is what most people would classify as “exercise” because you really are trying to do something that is physically hard for you. Achieving hard things makes us feel like we can do much more than we thought we ever could and helps keep us coming back for more.
“Do It Together”
Group activity is nothing short of awesome. Not only can it help you stay consistent and hold you accountable, but it really helps create community and a sense of belonging. This is something we all need! Social connection helps to create friendships, bonding, and builds optimism.
Using these strategies throughout the day and week can have a tremendous effect on your overall health.
Don’t underestimate the power of the joy of movement! It really does make you happier!
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