"If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented" Dr Nick Cavill
People who exercise regularly often do so because it gives them an enormous sense of wellbeing.
I personally use exercise as therapy. I used to be on very high dosages of medication for PTSD and anxiety and now I take nothing - instead using exercise as a key method of staying mentally healthy.
In the morning, the first thing I do is a 10-30 minutes’ walk or run, everyday. With exercise I think it is more effective if you do little and often rather than a 2 hours session. I find it clears my head and focuses me for the day ahead. Sometimes I listen to music and just relax and other days I get a good audio book on or podcast. Other times I listen to nothing and have a really mindful walk – find what works for you so that you enjoy doing it and find it becomes a part of your daily routine.
Being active doesn’t have to mean running marathons or training every day at the gym. Research has found that low-intensity aerobic exercise – for 30–35 minutes, 3–5 days a week, is best at increasing positive moods. Even just a 10 minute brisk walk can increase mental alertness, energy and positivity. Peolple who have a daily walk feel more content, more awake,and calmer.
Exercise has an impact on your wellbeing in the following ways:
Studies have found that by engaging in the activity through senses (i.e. feeling your feet on the ground, the wind in your face) you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilisation stress response that characterises PTSD or trauma.
Physical activity can be an alternative treatment for depression and anxiety, as it is found to treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication, with few side effects. I still have bad days with my anxiety, but I know that ensuring exercise is in my daily routine means I’ll have more good days than bad days. I definitely feel less stressed when I have exercised. I also feel more resilient to stressors and bounce back quicker when I am regularly exercising too. For me it serves as a distraction, creating quiet time by interrupting the flow of thoughts running through my head. It is my time and I love it.
It honestly has changed my life.
Tips to make exercise easier:
Jodie Hill is the managing director of Leeds-based boutique employment and discrimination law practice Thrive Law in the UK.
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