Is Exercise Good For Anxiety? We Say Yes For Sure.
Your Body Works (when you work it)
Let’s start simple.
Our bodies are complex organic machines and like all machines, they’re built to run!
One of the most harmful side effects of our increasingly sedentary modern lifestyles is that our bodies simply do not improve
—or even maintain—
when they’re stuck in a chair, in front of the TV, on the couch, in bed, and/or going absolutely nowhere.
When we’re stuck in stasis, the universal law of entropy takes hold and our physical forms begin to ever so slowly degrade and deteriorate until they eventually, and inevitably, breakdown completely.
Of course, when we then introduce the devastating addition of a constant stream of addictive snacks and caffeinated sugar bomb soft drinks as we’re typing, clicking, gaming or just vegging out, we’re creating a rapid-fire recipe for physical health disasters to come.
All of our bodies need regular exercise in order to function at their best, and in order to maintain a reasonable level of health and fitness.
This is an absolutely attainable goal we can all reach with just a modest amount of effort and discipline!
And another of the more recent emerging discoveries in regard to our modern-day health and well-being is that sedentary lifestyles which revolve around continuous hours and hours of staring into screens—monitors, TVs, and smartphones—actually contribute to an increase in daily stress!
Indeed, for most of us today, even the idea of being briefly separated from our phones—as a result of a dead battery or a temporarily misplaced device—has created an entire range of new symptoms revolving around a new form of “separation anxiety”.
This new form of anxiety has led to more stress for our tech-addicted lives, as well as a new psychological term coined in 2013 by Psychology Today magazine- Nomophobia (No-mobile-phone-phobia: a fear of being disconnected from your life and out of the loop from your social or professional group).
In other words, we need to-
- Put Our Phones DOWN
- Get Up
- Get Out
- Get Our Bodies In Motion
- Get Healthier, Happier, and Live Longer, more Productive Lives!
Easier said than done?
And so for the purposes of making the pursuit of a regular regimen of exercise a
reasonable goal which all of us can attain—with just a modest amount of effort
and discipline—we’re going to first introduce one of the simplest, most basic
forms of very available exercise that each of us can easily achieve today!
Walking Outside for Stress Reduction
Yes, simply putting one foot in front of the other until you’re out the door and
around the corner is not only going to help, but—if you’re new to the exercise game—is one of the easiest, best and most basic methods of beginning a reliable fitness regimen, and then sticking to it!
And a daily 20 - 45-minute walk offers a number of immediate advantages-
Walking requires absolutely zero equipment (other
than comfortable shoes)
- Walking requires zero membership fees or fitness “contracts”
- Walking requires zero specialized training or fitness trainers
- Walking requires no gyms, no fitness centers, no studios, no dojos, no commute (and only the great outdoors)
- Walking requires only the absolute minimum amount of athletic ability
- Walking is minimal impact with minimal strain on your joints, ligaments and spinal structure, making it as close to a completely safe, injury-free workout as can be!
In addition to these advantages, a brisk walk—or even a leisurely stroll—on a lovely, sunny day will add a refreshing amount of Vitamin “D” to your health, and on inclement days a daily constitutional will get your blood moving and warm your grumpy insides.
A reliable cardio workout, walking is very simply something most of us can do more of…the easy way.
PLEASE REMEMBER: LEAVE THE PHONE AT HOME/IN YOUR POCKET!
And this simple practice of getting your heart rate moving in the right direction—as well as supercharging your system with fresh O₂ and Vitamin D—and brings us directly to our next life-enhancing exercise/training suggestion.
Cardio for Tranquility
Our cardiovascular system requires numerous essential elements to run at peak production but, of course, the most essential and absolutely irreplaceable of all these elements is Oxygen!
Yes, we humans can last for weeks without food, for days without water, but without good ole O₂?
Mere minutes…if we’re lucky.
So taking care of the system that takes care of our precious supply and delivery of fresh oxygen—along with keeping our warm blood flowing strong—should always be a priority whenever we consider a regimen of proper exercise, and whenever we consider real fitness goals that will directly benefit our health and well-being.
And at its essence, any/all effective cardio is simply a matter of getting your target heart rate safely between 55% - 85% of your maximum heart rate for at least 20 - 30 minutes to achieve maximum results—with your MHR (max heart rate) roughly calculated as 220 minus your age.
EX: Age 20/ 220 – 20 = 200/MHR = 200
The really great news for us modern souls stuck in this new millennium. We’ve got an absolute abundance of great cardio options no matter who we are, where we live, or what resources we’re managing.
Let’s take a look at the cornucopia of great cardio options out there.
- Running- Much like walking (only a bit faster), running/jogging generally requires minimal expenditures on equipment or training, and can be properly accomplished almost anywhere.
- Biking- Stationary or real-world, cycling is still a great way to see the world as you get your heart rate pumping, and practice your smile at the same time!
- Swimming- Still one of the best cardio workouts out there, as well as an excellent, minimal impact, all-around workout for your entire muscular system. Body of water or pool required!
- Stair/Hill Climbing- Whether you take ‘em two at a time or at a more measured pace, whether you use a state-of-the-art machine at your gym, or the already-there stairwells of your office/apartment building, whether it’s a nearby mountain trail or a slight sidewalk grade to the grocery store, stair/hill climbing is always a great cardio workout for the more advanced fitness warrior.
- Spin/Zumba/Aerobics/Dance Class- If/when you’re ready to step up your cardio game to a professional classroom atmosphere, any one of these options will give you the cardio advantage that you need to succeed in all your health goals. WARNING: Intensity Required! (and may just be a lot of fun too!)
- Boxing/Kick-Boxing/MMA/Ju-Jitsu Class- If/when you really want to try something even more intense, there’s no cardio workout like a combat sport class to truly take your cardio game to the next level. (and maybe even build/restore a level of self-confidence you didn’t remember you had)
- HIIT/CrossFit Class- This one is def for extreme athletes ONLY. High-Intensity Interval Training and CrossFit training are among the most Advanced cardio options out there and are exclusively for the advanced warrior in You. If you’re there, this will def ring your cardio bell!
And in addition to our cardio examples, remember that any good cardio workout is where you find it!
When you’re properly motivated, have completed useful research which applies directly to your specific lifestyle, and maintains good physical discipline, you can create a great cardio workout all your own—at any age—almost anywhere you are, or anywhere you’ll go. At home, at a park, at a children’s playground, at the beach, in the mountains, or anywhere in between, just get creative, get into it, and have fun!
And now for an exercise regimen that’s, maybe, not so much fun…but at least equally productive in its own way.
Weight Training for Peace of Mind
Typically considered an “athletic” regimen exclusively for elite (or at least younger) athletes, weight training—also known as resistance/strength training—is actually an excellent choice to consider at almost any age, for all genders, and for almost any level of fitness you’re currently maintaining. It is here, however, where we must strongly urge everyone—especially those picking up weights for the very first time—to heed the most important advice when initially beginning any weight training fitness program.
ALWAYS START SLOWLY! (and very, very carefully)
And this cautionary advice truly applies to everyone, of every age.
Remember that even the most modest weight training fitness program comes with a number of tremendous, direct fitness benefits.
- Increased strength
- Increased muscular tone/muscle mass
- Increased skeletal strength
- Increased joint flexibility
- Increased energy
- Increased confidence
In addition to these direct benefits, resistance training can also positively impact your overall balance (especially when focusing on core strength), can help with weight loss/weight management, and will almost certainly have a positive effect on a good night’s sleep!
But for Type “A” personalities—of any age or stage—the most unfortunately common tendency is to come out of the gate storming and ready to “break those weights” in an all-out effort to either “get in shape”, or get back in shape…YESTERDAY!
This is a common but disastrous mistake that will almost certainly lead to rapid failure/quitting, and may often lead to the entirely negative setback of injury.
Because although weight training is awesomely beneficial, it is always a process that must be undertaken gradually, and this process must always err on the side of caution.
Especially for those of us who may not be at our physical peak, weight training must be approached safely and slowly if we are to reap its many rewards.
We recommend these simple standards when beginning any weight training
regimen (and then maintaining these simple standards for the first 4-6
- Always use the LOWEST weight possible in every exercise
- Always use the maximum amount of repetitions(reps) for every set (12-15)
Always use the minimum amount of sets for every exercise (we recommend no
more than 3 to begin)
- Always schedule a rest day between workouts (rest is equally important as work)
- Never compare your progress to anyone else’s (we are all at different stages)
And when it comes to any new weight training program, we do recommend that you start at a professional gym (or local YMCA), and perhaps even consult your gym’s personal trainer for helpful advice when beginning.
If you are unable to find a suitable gym in your area, an at-home program is certainly possible but will require some investment in proper, safe, basic equipment.
When approached and then undertaken safely and properly, you will see results
in the mirror in those initial 4-6 weeks (men will typically be able to see more
significant results than women), and this will provide you with the positive fuel to continue.
And hopefully, continue for a lifetime!
We encourage you to start consistently doing cardio and weight training workouts for your mental health.
We are confident you will notice lower anxiety and stress from it.
And getting in shape is a great bonus as well!!
Other than exercise, having the right vitamins and herbs can make a huge difference in everyday relaxation!