Anxiety — there’s probably not a person on earth right now who isn’t feeling the collective anxiety over the global pandemic and what it will mean for all of us. It’s undeniable — we live in a surreal time. And, if you’re already prone to worry or perhaps now dealing with uncertain income or health worries, it’s likely your anxiety may be through the roof. And while it may be your natural inclination to curl up on the couch and Netflix yourself into oblivion, there’s actually never been a more important time to stay active. Read on as we share the power of exercise for stress and calming that racing mind.
And, get this — the benefits of even 20 minutes of movement are very real, and you don’t need equipment to get that workout in.
Here are just a handful of reasons why it’s super important to keep your body moving during this stressful time.
5 Benefits of Exercise For Stress & Anxiety
#1 Endorphins Make Us Happy
Elle Woods said it best — endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t kill their husbands. She wasn’t wrong! It’s scientifically proven that endorphins, which our body releases from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, give us a natural high and help reduce stress, keeping us sane during these tough times.
While there’s plenty of stressors we can’t control, we can make a conscious choice to give our spirits a much-needed boost in the way of endorphins.
Turn off the news, step away from distractions, and move your body. You may not feel like it, but we can guarantee you’ll be feeling the positive effects once you’re a few minutes in.
No gym needed either — choose a bodyweight workout, and you’ll still be feeling the burn while getting those endorphins flowing.
#2 Exercise Boosts Your Immune System
One thing we could all use right now? A bolstered immune system to fight off this virus. Exercise has a direct impact on our immunity and is one thing we can do each day to keep our bodies in fighting shape.
Science is still uncovering the myriad of ways exercise impacts our body’s inner workings, but what’s clear is that as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, regular exercise improves our cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, and helps protect against many diseases.
No need to overdo it either — research suggests moderate exercise is best to protect immune system function.
#3 Exercise is a Free and Awesome Way to Stay Busy
Whether you’re on full lockdown or just socially distancing, chances are good that you’re finding yourself with a little more time on your hands than usual.
A way better alternative to sitting around scrolling on your phone and overdosing on news updates is exercising at home to pass the time and still feel like you got something productive done — even if you’re off work or not being as social as usual.
#4 Exercise is a Powerful Natural Anti-Depressant
During these anxiety-ridden and isolated times, depression can absolutely start to creep in if we don’t take proactive measures to keep our mindset and emotions as healthy as possible.
Though it certainly doesn’t replace speaking with your doctor if you struggle with anxiety or depression, exercise can play a role in your depression prevention and treatment.
A recent study found that even running or walking for 15 minutes a day can reduce major depression by 26%. Start small, with a short workout just a few times a week, and see how it helps.
#5 Exercise Can Give You Something to Look Forward To and a Goal to Achieve
When you’re anxious, it can feel like everything is spiraling and falling apart. Even if it’s just a 15-minute run or 20-minute at-home workout each day, a regular exercise practice gives you back some routine during anxious, uncertain times, and can give you a bright spot in your day to look forward to when it feels like the whole world is falling apart.
Also, if you’re quarantined and unable to pursue any of your usual hobbies outside the home, why not set some fitness goals for yourself? Never been able to do a full push up? Want to be able to get through a whole workout without modifying? Trying to gain muscle or lose that five pounds? Now’s a great time to channel that anxious energy into something productive.
Having a goal to chip away at each day and being able to see progress as you get closer to achieve it can be incredibly rewarding. Many people notice their anxious thoughts and negativity quiet down during a workout, and their mood start to improve. So, get to moving!
These Times Are Challenging, But Exercise Can Provide a Bright Spot
We’re all in this together, and we’ll get through these tough times. There may be lots of uncertainty and plenty to worry about, but all we can do is control the controllable, one day at a time.
Exercise provides countless benefits for anxiety and depression relief, mood, and mindset, and can help us be more productive during the day and sleep better at night.
Though it’s tempting to hide under the covers or stay on the couch all day, try just a short workout — no need to go from zero to sixty overnight — and see how it helps!