Most of us hear about the physical and mental health benefits of exercise. 

When it comes to the physical benefits, I think we could all come up with a list of some of those benefits which include strength, conditioning, muscle building, weight management, etc.  

When it comes to the mental, emotional, and psychological benefits of exercise, in addition to the adrenalin rush or “runner’s high” or a sense of accomplishment or just feeling better overall,

There are some really interesting benefits that happen to our brain and our moods when we exercise:

  • Exercise is like a “miracle grow” for the brain; when you exercise you produce something called BDNF which is a protein that nourishes neurons, prevents neurons from dying, and even triggers the growth of brand-new neurons. 

  • “Hope Molecules.” When the muscles contract and relax during exercise, they release chemicals called “myokines” which have been described as “hope molecules.” It’s like having a “pharmacy of hope” in our muscles that can help us cope with stress and trauma and depression because these chemicals cross the blood-brain barrier and create resiliency in our brain. These 

  • As good or better than antidepressants? It seems studies have shown that exercise not only helps us feel better in the short term and helps us cope with stress and depression, that over time it can have dramatic effects on depression to the extent that it has the possibility to be as effective as some medications for depression. Perhaps this gets back to the “molecules of hope” and the way our brains become more resilient to stress over time when we exercise.

Now that you have more evidence that exercise or any form of consistent movement is good for you,

Here are some tips if you struggle with ongoing motivation or consistency:

  • Choose an activity you enjoy, something that is reasonable to achieve EVERY DAY, and commit to it 100 percent of the time. If this means a 10 min walk is all you can manage each day, then commit 100 percent. This gives you a daily sense of accomplishment which is positive reinforcement to keep going. And if 10 minutes turns into 15 mins, then great. Just don’t bite off too much at once as this is a recipe for not staying consistent.

  • Set yourself up to succeed by having your clothes ready to go and this includes all sorts of outerwear for the different weather options, rather than using the outdoors as an excuse not to go.

  • Remember that everything from cutting grass to vacuuming is considered an activity, but remember that daily consistency is the key!

If you’re looking for help organizing your health and wellness plan through the fall and winter seasons, please book an appointment to see us, 306-373-5209.

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