It’s a strange time upon us now, where social distancing has become something many choose to do. Many have to stay at home for different reasons, and many choose to stay away from the gym or other public places. Without making a conscious choice for yourself, this can turn out to be a time where Netflix and chill, together with popcorn and soda, becomes a daily event instead of an occasional night of relaxation.
How can inactivity affect our bodies and minds? The World Health Organization states that “physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality”, so it’s safe to say that your body needs movement. What about mental health then?
There are many studies to find out about this, and they use a variety of subjects. Among others, you can find studies on students, the elderly and teens. A study done on Law and Psychology students showed that more physical activity and exercise led to less physical and emotional distress. Furthermore, the elderly have been attending studies where the goal was to look for correlation between exercise and mental health.
Guilan University of Medical Science published a study in 2011 that suggested that elderly people attending an exercise program would benefit on a physical level, which then indirectly improves the quality of life and mental health. Even a study on teens doing CrossFit showed improved mental health in risk-groups (being low self-esteem groups, high anxiety groups etc.)
“Do some squats, push ups and sit-ups, maybe some high-knee running on the spot, and you can enjoy the winning prize of a good happy-hormone cocktail the rest of the day”
So, seeing as there is an effect for physical activity on your physical health, mental health and even longevity, it seems like there is enough reason to actually exercise. However, many of us want to know what is actually going on in the body, and how this can be translated to our everyday life.
First, looking at what happens short term: endorphins. Yes, you’ve probably heard of the good, happy-hormone that is released during physical activity. This can last for 2-3 hours after a workout, and can even still have an effect on your mood as long as up to 24 hours after you stopped exercising. This is clearly a good reason to move, even if it has to be in your own living room during these uncertain times. Do some squats, push ups and sit-ups, maybe some high-knee running on the spot, and you can enjoy the winning prize of a good happy-hormone cocktail the rest of the day.
However, the long term effect might be even more of a reason to move. Examples of the long-term effects are: better mobility, flexibility, blood flow, heart health, oxygen uptake, metabolism and more. As the physical benefits over time would be reason enough to move for 20-30 minutes every day, the fact that this could indirectly affect your mental health should seal the deal for the argument you are having between the devil on the left shoulder and the angel on the right.
While I’ll admit the devil may sometimes have to win, like when you deserve some extra treats after you nailed your essay, or when you HAVE to see what happens next in your Netflix binge at 2 A.M., or buying the dress you’ve been drooling over for a month. That’s just called living. But when the poor angel is suggesting that you sacrifice only 20-30 minutes a day to achieve all of these great benefits for your health and wellbeing, well, that’s probably when the angel should be allowed to win.
“Search for #homeworkout and there will be tons of help and inspiration, the internet is exploding with suggestions right now”
You don’t have to look further than your Instagram account for help and ideas for workout to do at home. Search for #homeworkout and there will be tons of help and inspiration, the internet is exploding with suggestions right now. But if you just want an easy recipe to follow, nothing Insta-worthy or fancy, then just go outside. Walk in the park, run a few stairs or a hill, or just walk through the woods. It doesn’t have to be more difficult than that.
Featured image courtesy of GotCredit via Flickr. Image license here. No changes were made to this image.
Article image courtesy of I m Peace via Flickr. Image license here. No changes were made to this image.
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