Exercise & Mental Health
Exercise has been the single most important factor for me in helping to enhance my own mental health. It’s not surprising, given that a recent study of 3 years worth of data from 1.2 million Americans found that people who exercised had 40 percent better mental health than people who didn't exercise, even when they controlled for BMI, physical health, and sociodemographic factors like age and race.
I know the word “exercise” itself can be intimidating and it creates images of running a marathon or lifting heavy weights in a gym for an hour, but that’s simply not the case. Exercising for even as little as 10-15 minutes at a time may make a great difference.
Build exercise into your daily routine
When I feel stressed or anxious because of my job, I try to take a brisk walk outside, even if it's only for 10 minutes. I try to walk briskly, not casually and try to breathe a little deeper than I normally would. This approach is flexible because it’s based on your own level of current fitness. One trick I have learned is that if I have 30 minutes for a lunch break, I reserve the last 10 minutes for a walk. You’d be surprised how much that can help ease anxiety.
Build extra steps into your day
To help build extra steps and fresh air into my day, I try and follow these tips:
- Park towards the back of a parking lot
- Take the stairs and not the elevator
- Instead of taking all of your bags in one trip from the car, do it in three trips
Exercise comes in many forms
Try getting outside and raking leaves, shovelling snow, and doing some gardening. If you have kids, you can also run around with them at your local park or playground. Instead of driving to your local store, try walking.
What do you do to build movement into your day?