After a long, tiring day, the last thing I want to think about is exercising. My body feels cranky and my mind is exhausted from focusing on a thousand details. My physical and mental batteries need recharging. The thought of getting home and collapsing on the sofa is all that my waning energy would seem to allow. It’s on those days that I find it’s most valuable to do the opposite.
When it comes to boosting mood, new research suggests that exercise is a gift we can give ourselves that creates both an immediate and a long-lasting benefit. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise improves mood immediately and those improvements can last up to 12 hours, according to a study conducted by Dr. Jeremy Sibold, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation and Movement Science at the University of Vermont.
The mood-boosting effects of exercise are partly due to a rise in levels of chemical neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, in the brain. “It’s clear that exercise is critical for both physical and mental health”, summarized Dr. Sibold. After I read about this study, I decided to test it out. On the next day that I felt mentally burdened and physically unmotivated, I decided to take a moderately brisk walk, followed by some stretches. I have to admit; in 30 minutes I had a major energy adjustment in my body. I even went grocery shopping on the way home! What a simple remedy, yet I had to choose it.
So, I would invite you to try the same strategy: The next time you fall exhausted into your car after work (thinking of the shortest route to the couch), choose instead to go to the local fitness center for a mind-body “battery recharge”. Take any one of the group fitness classes that are readily available with a friend, or listen to music while you walk or cycle. Just move your body and breathe deeply; the biochemistry will take care of itself!
Submitted by Lyn Loy, PT