EXERCISE CAN MAKE A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE
This Drawn Out Pandemic has Been Hard on All of Us; Remember to Utilize the Benefit of Exercise, for the Health of Your Spirit, Mind and Body
These last 21 months have been long and difficult for many of us. The coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on public health, a toll that extends well beyond those who have been infected by the virus. Nearly all of us have experienced or witnessed the effects: increased stress, heightened anxiety, at least a bit of depression. These conditions are to be expected given the isolation and disruption to our daily lives.
These are conditions to be expected – but should not to be ignored.
A survey conducted for the Centers for Disease Control in late June found that 40 percent of U.S. adults reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition related to the pandemic, including anxiety or depressive disorders, substance abuse to cope with stress, and even suicide ideation.
The research is clear: Three or more periods of movement per week of aerobic exercise or resistance training for 45 to 60 minutes each can effectively treat depression, even chronic depression. That amount of physical activity is also the amount recommended by the CDC and the World Health Organization to promote cardiovascular health and lower the risk of diabetes and other diseases associated with obesity. Working out and other forms of physical activity can definitely ease symptoms of depression or anxiety and make you feel better. Exercise may also help keep depression and anxiety from coming back once you’re feeling better.
You can safely engage in physical activity by exercising with family, taking long walks, using online fitness resources, taking a virtual class, and setting exercise goals, for instance.
Another thing we know about exercise and mental health is that movement is self-rewarding – that is, even a small amount of exercise can create an upward spiral as it increases the body’s receptors of dopamine. The ensuing sense of reward persuades the brain that further exercise will also be rewarding. That means that, once started, the act of exercising becomes easier to sustain. When you have depression or anxiety, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference. You’ll probably enjoy exercising and look forward to it!
Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Working out and other forms of physical activity can definitely ease symptoms of depression or anxiety and make you feel better. Exercise may also help keep depression and anxiety from coming back once you’re feeling better.
Although it might be tempting to skip your workout during these challenging times, public health officials say that exercise — while undoubtedly important under normal circumstances — is essential to your physical health and mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So bundle up, lace up your sneakers, bring together family and friends, and enjoy a beautiful walk to help ease the burden of pandemic-fatigue!
Stay up to date on what's happening in your community! Subscribe to our blog for events, announcements, and stories.