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Boosting Mental Health with Exercise

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 14:15

Feeling down? Battling anxiety? Not sleeping well? You might be surprised how much your mental health improves when you get moving. Studies have long shown that exercise not only benefits the body, but the mind as well. In addition to increasing self-confidence and boosting mood, regular exercise decreases stress levels, reduces anxiety and improves sleep.


Although it may seem like exercise in the coming weeks and months proves a great challenge, keeping our bodies and minds healthy is more important right now than ever before. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, people are homebound, worried, anxious, and undoubtedly more sedentary than usual, so what can we do to get moving while responsibly practicing social distancing?


First and foremost, give your doc a call if you have a medical condition. Make sure you inform him or her of your desire to increase your activity level and find out if it’s safe for you to do so. As more and more clinics are eliminating unnecessary visits, simply call and leave a message for either your doc or a nurse to contact you and advise whether you should proceed with any physical activity.


Depending on where you live, get outdoors. Go for a walk, jog or hike as long as you keep your distance from others. Work out in the yard by weeding flower beds, planting a garden, picking up limbs, making minor repairs or creating new focal points.


If you’re home with your children, play in the backyard when the springtime weather allows. Chase a soccer ball, shoot some hoops, draw a hopscotch pattern on the driveway with sidewalk chalk or engage in a good old-fashioned game of tag.


For those who would rather exercise indoors, search for free fitness apps or check out yoga, Pilates or basic fitness videos available on streaming services you may already have, like Netflix or Hulu. Cardio and resistance training might not be your thing, and that’s perfectly fine. Download guides for proper stretching from the web or Pinterest. With decreased mobility brought on by self-quarantining, your muscles and mind will benefit from a few minutes of stretching and lengthening, especially in a nice warm and sunny place next to a door or window.


If you have exercise equipment at home, great! Use it! But if not, there are plenty of ways to get creative. You can use canned goods for dumbbells and towels as resistance bands. Put a line on the floor with masking tape and hop from one side to the other. Use a sturdy chair or bench for tricep dips. Do pushups and step ups on your stairs.


There are any number of ways to increase your physical activity around your home or neighborhood—just be sure to avoid close contact with your neighbors. So, get up, get creative, get your kids involved, get outside, just get moving. Your body and mind will thank you!


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