Yesterday we began looking at ways to decrease or at least manage our recent increased levels of stress. Step #1 was to GET OUTSIDE! Today we look at our next step…
STEP #2 GET SOME EXERCISE
Studies continue to show the benefits of regular exercise for improved mental health. In fact, the research shows that for mild to moderate depression, exercise is as effective as antidepressants. A Harvard study found that running 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. Even 30-45 minutes of exercise three times per week can help improve mood and relieve stress. Here are some of the benefits you can derive from exercise:
- Reduced anxiety, depression, and negative mood
- An increased sense of well being
- Improved cognitive function
- Increased energy
- Improved sleep
- Increased interest in sex
- Stress relief
- Improved relaxation
And if you get your exercise outdoors, as we discussed yesterday, you can get the extra benefits from being out in nature and sunshine! I caution you not to set your initial exercise goals too high. Often folks will say “On Monday I’m going to start my exercise routine by running 3 miles/day!” But then Monday comes around and 3 miles seems like a burden instead of fun so they don’t do anything! Set reasonable goals that you’re more likely to achieve and then move from there. So instead of having an initial goal of running 3 miles, perhaps you’d be better served to set your goal as walking for 15 minutes to start, or taking a bike ride in the neighborhood with your kids, or walking your dog leisurely on the greenway. And then build from that. You will stick with it longer if you’re actually enjoying it! Which of course, is the whole idea! So GET MOVING today and have fun!
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