Updated: Feb 14
Just moving your body can make a huge difference to your physical and mental health.
What do you think about when you think of exercise? Is it the gym, going hard, pushing yourself and smashing yourself for an hour three to four times a week for it to be worth while? Mounting research has show that for exercise to have benefits this does not need to be the way. Even exercising one day per week has been shown to have positive affects on mood and physical health.
Furthermore a study suggests that 12% of cases of depression could have been prevented by just one hour of exercise a week.
This and many other studies have shown that the link between mental and physical health are inseparable and if one side is suffering, so too does the other. Not only does exercise effect our mood and the way we feel about ourselves, but on the reverse side our mood can have an effect on the way we exercise.
If we are exercising to change ourselves, blow off steam or punish bodies it will have completely different implications than if we were exercising to nurture and support the way that we live. It is important to consider what your relationship with exercise is and what is behind your reason for wanting to exercise.
The focus is on the quality and connection that you are having with your body
When we exercise to support our physical and mental health there is less focus on the type and duration of the exercise and more of the quality and connection that you are having with your body. It doesn't matter if you are walking from your car into a building, standing at work or cleaning the house - you can use these moments to check in with your body leading to incidental exercises that add up quickly.
The way that we move our bodies directly impacts the mood that we are in, so exercising with the focus of connecting with your body and how we are moving can support with shifting any negative feelings that we may be holding. This is related to the concept of Mindfulness which is when you focus on being aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.
This is because when we bring awareness to the body and breath we can tap into our nervous system
When you exercise in this way it is much more supportive for our mental and physical health rather than pushing our bodies beyond what they are capable of to escape our feelings or run away from them (pun intended). This is because when we bring awareness to the body and breath we can tap into our nervous system. The breath is the only way to harness the nervous system - under stress and anxiety, breathing exercises have the ability to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and suppress the sympathetic nervous system, sending messages to and form along the vagus nerve to direct ourselves into a relaxation response.
An example of controlled breathing is include three parts: (1) inhaling deeply through the nose focusing on the in breath and making it as smooth as possible. Once you feel it is smooth then (2) pause at the top of the breath for a moment and then focus on (3) exhaling completely through the base of the nostrils.
Before undertaking a physical exercise routine please consult your medical advisor. You can get assistance from your GP to obtain subsidized sessions under Medicare for an exercise physiologist.
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