By: Dr. Kelly Vincent, Registered Psychological Assistant
Ok, so why is moving so important?
If we could do anything for ourselves, especially when we are feeling not-so-great, it would be to GET MOVING. Exercise is one coping skill that provides more bang for your buck.
There is also a biological reason why we should be moving! Benefits.org summarized it best, “doctors recommend that we all exercise regularly because our bodies need to be physically active. We sit throughout the day while working and then sit more while relaxing with friends and family either at home or out on the town. Because of all the sitting we do our bodies do not work the way they were designed to work, or at least we don’t achieve the peak performance that we would if we were still living as hunter-gatherers. Hence we turn to exercise to ameliorate some of the effects of our sedentary lifestyles.” Essentially, our bodies were programmed to move! Like food and water, our bodies NEED exercise in some form or another.
What do the experts recommend?
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends healthy adults “get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week.” The Department of Health and Human Services also recommends “strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times per week. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week (Mayo Clinic, 2015).”
Now let’s think about this for a second. DHHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. When we break it down that is ONLY 2.5 hours per week or 1.25 hours per week of vigorous (e.g. running, spinning, sprinting) exercise. When you think of all the activities you do throughout your week that is really only a small fraction of your time!
For comparison’s sake, let’s look at a typical activity (most of us) do during the day: social media usage. Let’s be honest, many of us are guilty of spending more time scrolling than we would like to admit. However, you are not alone. Research shows “the average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day (The Telegraph, 2015).” Yes, you read that correctly, every day! That is a lot of time spent on a platform that is really not giving much in return. Heck, it sometimes makes us feel worse! So, how about we spend 50 minutes scrolling on social media and the other 50 minutes moving!?
Benefits of Moving
There are so many benefits when it comes to exercise that I could not possibly list them all in this blog post, but, I will highlight a handful that are super important. Specifically, I want to highlight the benefits to both the mind and body.
- Helps control weight
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Reduces the risk of some cancers
- Strengthens bones and muscles
- Improves your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
- Increases your chances of living longer
Mental Health Benefits
- Lifts your mood
- Reduces stress
- Boosts confidence
- Improves sleep
- Decreases symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD
- Boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention
- Increases energy
- Builds resiliency
We all need a little motivation from time to time. Not just with exercise, but with anything in life. Below are a few ways to increase your motivation when it comes to taking care of your physical body and mental well-being.
- Treat Yo Self
dailyburn.com highlighted Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,advice. He talks about making the benefits of working out more tangible, such as by treating yourself to a smoothie or an episode of Game of Thrones afterward.
- Power of Positive Thinking
- Use visualization as a motivational strategy. That is, visualize the benefits before exercise. Maybe in the morning you imagine how the sun will feel if you are going for a run outside or how you are one step closer to your goal (e.g. six pack, leaner muscles, emotionally stronger).
- Find Your #fitnesstribe
- Finding a workout that makes you feel good, while surrounding yourself with people that help build your confidence as much as your strength is extremely beneficial. Research shows that working out with a buddy can increase motivation, interest, and accountability.
- Don’t Judge Yourself
- We are not perfect. No human is. When you have an “off day” or just are not feeling it for whatever reason (side note: those are the days that you need it the most), remind yourself it is ok. You did not fail at life. Not all is ruined or lost. Commit to yourself in that moment to get back on track tomorrow or later in the day. Maybe replace your vigorous spin class for a short walk. After all, the point is just to GET MOVING. Not every day will be a perfect workout day.
- Finally, MAKE IT FUN!
- Do something that is fun. Yes, exercise is hard. But it doesn’t have to be hard all the time. Maybe it is running or walking in a beautiful location, or it is trying out something new with a friend (i.e. laughing yoga). Laughing can be a wonderful workout for the abs.