You have likely heard many physical benefits of exercise from strengthening your body to preventing disease. Did you know it also helps your brain?
Physical activity has been proven by multiple studies to reduce fatigue, increase relaxation and energy, improve alertness, help you concentrate and help you sleep. It also increases production of “feel-good chemicals” in your body and reduces “stress chemicals.”
You may be thinking, “I am so busy. How am I supposed to exercise?”
A great strategy is to combine two things together. Need to catch up with a friend? Go on a walk. Waiting in line? Try 20 calf-raises. Brushing your teeth? Practice balancing on one leg. Stopped at a red light? Take some deep breaths. Waiting for the microwave? Do some squats. Every little bit adds up! Even 5 minutes of aerobic movement has shown to decrease anxiety.
One of the best ways to change a habit is to start small and be consistent. If you say you will start running 6 miles every day at 6am, you may never want to get out of bed! Instead, set a specific time and walk 5 minutes every day. When you walk 5 minutes, congratulate yourself! If you happen to do any more, that’s great. However, you only have to do 5 minutes. After three weeks when you are walking regularly, try increasing your length of time, distance or speed slightly or take 2 walks a day. Remember, the goal is to be consistent! Don’t minimize what you are doing, because you are being active and helping your brain to be less stressed. There are some great free exercise apps you can download to track your progress. If you don’t like walking, pick something you love like biking, gardening, weight lifting or yoga and enjoy the many benefits of more movement.