Exercise: The Anywhere, Anytime Medicine

What if there were a drug that reduced stress, helped you lose weight, lifted your mood, built strength and agility, improved your sleep—and even boosted your immunity? You’d probably want a daily dose of this drug, wouldn’t you? Well, good news. Not only are you eligible for this drug; it’s available to you right now! It’s called exercise.
 
Physical activity of just about any kind can add not only years to your life, but life to your years. In fact, so numerous are its benefits that if exercise were a pill, it would be flying off the pharmacy shelves. It’s nothing short of a miracle cure. So, try thinking of exercise as medicine to take versus something one has to do. It can help motivate you to get a daily dose—and shake off any guilty feelings when you don’t. Missing a dose of this drug is not a big deal. The point is to keep reaching for it.

There are some important similarities between exercise and medication when it comes to improving your mood and health. For example, either works best when individualized. As with a drug, each exercise “prescription’ should vary depending on type, duration, intensity, and frequency. Second, each person benefits from knowing which exercise type and routine may work best for them; consulting a trainer or taking a class can provide this kind of guidance. Likewise, for healthcare providers who prescribe exercise, it isn’t enough to tell a patient, “You should exercise,” and expect them to know all the ins and outs. That would be like telling a patient to “take this pill” without the full explanation that is standard medical practice. An exercise prescription should be explained clearly, same as with a course of medication.

Exercise - Medicine for Body and Mind

Exercise offers multiple benefits that help overall cognitive function. When your mind is stressed, it sends a message to many different nerve connections that cause your body to feel depleted as well. Conversely, healing your body—say, through exercise—will help heal your mind. Exercise helps your body produce endorphins that decrease depression, lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, and boost self-esteem. They also promote weight loss and improve sleep. Exercise also increases your body’s production of antibodies and T-cells that fight infection, improving your immune system and protecting you against illness. Feeling resilient against disease can also help improve your mental wellbeing.

Ready to take your medicine? Here are three great types of exercise you can do almost anytime, anywhere: 

Cardiovascular and Aerobic Exercise 

Walking is aerobic exercise with cardiovascular benefits—and one of the easiest exercises to perform. It doesn’t require a gym or any equipment; just put on comfortable footwear and go! It’s a great way to relieve stress, whether you are power walking or strolling at a steady pace and clearing your mind. Walking releases endorphins to help heal your body and increase your positivity. The American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “prescribe” at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both. Brisk walking qualifies as moderate intensity activity, but any pace can be beneficial.

Tai Chi 

Tai chi is a traditional Chinese practice known to benefit people who suffer from anxiety, stress, and depression. It also regulates immune functions by increasing levels of positive endorphins within the body. Tai Chi is an exercise routine anyone can do: The movements are easy, slow, and repetitive, focusing on the form of each movement and breathing. This practice is known to alleviate any energy blockages within the body, promoting a sense of inner peace and mindfulness.

Pilates 

Pilates is a method of putting low impact and stress on the body to help improve postural alignment, core strength, and balance by relaxing overactive muscles and activate underactive ones. It’s a great way to release anxiety and stress to manage cortisol levels. Pilates helps promote strength, flexibility, posture, and weight loss. Similar to yoga, focusing on your breathing in Pilates helps improve the flow of oxygen to all of your body’s cells and removes wastes and toxins being trapped by insufficient blood supply. As a bonus, Pilates also helps you manage stress by decreasing cortisol levels and increasing levels of endorphins and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and many other physiological processes., improving your mood naturally.

Ready, Set… Exercise 

Now that you know about this “wonder drug,” why not give exercise a try? Or, if you already exercise, try adding variety to your routine with something new. Research shows that mixing things up can help you stay with your exercise “prescription” longer. It’s good medicine. Take it—for life!