A lot of the time we see exercise for physical health. We think about building strength, power, endurance, and muscle.
But one of the best things that exercise gives you is improved mental health.
We are built to move, and most of us already don’t get enough movement throughout the day as we work in seated/stationary positions for hours on end.
Our body recognizes the lack of movement and does not have to ramp up any of our systems to get things going. Blood is reserved for organs and digestion, so muscles and joints don’t get the nutrients they need to stay healthy. This then causes achiness and stiffness. Having aches and pains can reduce the ability to perform things you love or need to do throughout the day. If there are lingering injuries in the muscle and bone of the body, those areas aren’t getting the blood supply that will help them heal.
All of this leads to further mental discomfort. The brain gets some blood supply while inactive, but with more it can process information faster and more productively.
This is why getting up and walking at least 30 mins a day is extremely important for bodily health.
This circulates blood through the body and brain as well as moves all major joints in the body.
On top of nutrients for healing, while exercising, the body releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and dopamine, which make us feel good and motivate us. It is always an amazing feeling being stripped of stress after a good workout. Afterwards you feel so relaxed and are ready to either start your day or wind down for the night, depending on when you like to or can fit in your workout.
Working out before work is a great way to set a great mindset for the work day. You decrease the stress held in your body before going to problem-solve and be productive. Starting with a clean slate before taking on stress builds a capacity to be more productive and happy through the day. Also the great part about working out before work is that it is already done and you don’t have to worry about doing it afterwards.
Exercise promotes improvements in sleep.
The chemical Serotonin, which is responsible for improving mood and battling depression, is created during sleep. So, the better your sleep quality, the better your mood/happiness should be. Now, if you workout too close to bedtime it can disrupt getting to sleep due to the ramping up of your nervous system; you want finish a couple hours prior to going to bed. If you are finished within this time-frame, you can still get great sleep with the stress- and endorphin-release you get from the workout.
Fit exercise in when you can. It doesn’t always have to be at the same time if the day. Schedules can fluctuate, so work with what you have.
Research is seeing more and more that exercise is on par or better with fighting depression than SSRI medication in the treatment of depression.
These medications stop the reuptake of serotonin artificially; why not improve your serotonin through exercise and sleep? Lower dopamine levels also are correlated with depression. Exercise releases dopamine, which improves motivation. Depression can cause you to be very unmotivated in pursuing hardships or even carrying out your everyday activities. Help yourself by adding exercise into your day and making yourself feel better!
Start small so you don’t get burned out too quickly. Start with 1-3x a week for about 30-45 mins. This can be walking, playing your favorite sport, weight lifting, swimming, yoga, Pilates, etc. Then as you build your capacity for exercise, you can add duration and frequency to your workouts. They can go from 30 mins to 45 min to an hour. They can also increase in number of days a week from 1 to 3 to 5. Always leave rest days so the body can recover from the workouts.
This is for the long game. Once exercising became a habit it sticks with you for life. Stick to your regimen for weeks to months to years and see the benefits for yourself!
About the author:
Dennis was born and raised in Cincinnati and went to the University of Cincinnati for health promotion and education, focusing on fitness for his undergraduate degree. Following completion of his undergraduate studies, he then went on to the University of Dayton and received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy.
Dr. Mirosh has been practicing in outpatient orthopedics since graduating from UD treating a variety of physical ailments from musculoskeletal injuries to strokes and deconditioning. He has a true passion for working with any client that has the drive to better themselves but has a special interest in working with athletes. In particular, he enjoys working with weight lifters and martial artists
He has always loved the medical field and was directed towards physical therapy from the time he was in middle school. He has been around sports his whole life and had a high appreciation for rehabilitative medicine.
He loves being able to go in every day and help people in his community better their lives and allow them to return to the activities that they hold dear. He enjoys educating clients on proper movement and how to optimize their performance in their everyday life and hobbies. He was also is very blessed to be able to use his hands to alleviate pain and allow people to get back to doing the things they love.