The Mind-Body Connection-The Mental Benefits of Exercise
Working on your body? You mean working on your brain!
Health Benefits from Regular Physical Activity
• Improved sleep
• Increased libido
• Improved endurance
• Stress relief
• Improved mood
• Increased energy and stamina
• Reduced fatigue
• Improved mental alertness
• Weight control
• Improved cardiovascular function
Studies have shown that participating in physical activity not only enhances your body, it boosts your mind, attitude and mood. Getting moving by jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, dancing or even gardening can improve blood circulation to the brain for reduced anxiety and depression. Improved blood flow allows for better communication between the parts of the brain such as the limbic system, that controls motivation and mood; the amygdala, which controls the fear response; the hippocampus, which functions for memory, mood and motivation.
Physical activity works as a distraction from stressors or intrusive thoughts, allowing for a more clear mind. Group exercise sessions and activities can provide social interaction, support and accountability to those struggling to maintain their place in society. Setting goals and plans for exercise can not only keep you accountable, but can also help boost self-esteem as goals are met. Lifestyle changes with the inclusion of exercise often see physical changes to the body which may aid in self-esteem.
Some patients who are taking medications for mental health, may suffer from weight gain; those patients may see improvements in weight control along with improved energy and reduced blood pressure. Exercising “at home” doesn’t have to be inside or include fancy machines. You can be active outside in your yard, a local park or the beach! Most of the time having a mat to lay on and yourself is all you need to be able to get a good workout. Even a daily walk can create a positive effect on both the mind and body. An exercise program does not have to be daunting or exhausting. Your program should be at the pace and difficulty that makes your heart rate increase and puts some sweat on your brow. It is common to experience a “runner’s high” or a feeling of euphoria following a good workout that is the body releasing “feel good” hormones called endorphins. These endorphins can work as a natural pain reliever, as well as boost your mood and energy levels.
Easy Home Exercises
Lower Body Strengthening
Squats | Lunges | Hamstring Curls | Heel Raises | 4 way Straight Leg Raises
Upper Body Strengthening
Bicep curls | Tricep Kickback | 3 way Straight Arm Raises | Scapular Squeezes | Scapular Shrugs
Plank | Bird Dog |Dying Bug | Supermans
Lower Body Stretching
Hamstring Stretch | Quad Stretch | Piriformis Stretch | 2 way Calf Stretch | Side Lunge Stretch