By Michelle Slates, OTA/L
This year with a global pandemic our physical and mental health was impacted. What we all knew to be normal was turned upside down and inside out. Our mental wellbeing was challenged. Our daily routines were interrupted. We didn’t see many people, outside of our families we quarantined with. As we have reestablished routines, it’s time to get our physical and mental health back on track.
Exercise is the most effective, yet under-used treatment for mental health issues such as depression. So what is one thing you can do to help with your mental health and wellbeing? PHYSICAL ACTIVITY!!!
Physical activity promotes the production of endorphins. One of the mental health benefits of exercise results from a bodily change in the release of brain hormones. The primary hormones are called endorphins. They are stress hormones with receptors throughout your brain and body that calm you and relieve muscle pain during workouts. They contribute to your feeling of well-being or “runners high” that arises during exercise. This gives you a second wind and the ability to finish your workout.
Exercising for 20-30 minutes 3 times a week is proven to improve endorphin production. Any type of exercise or activity - from yard work, yoga, walking, weight lifting to HIIT workouts -will increase production. Other ideas to increase endorphins are massage, meditating and laughing.
The science of human endorphin levels is still evolving, as researchers continue to study this chemical and how it affects overall health. Endorphins may not be a “cure all,” but boosting endorphin levels is an effective way to increase overall wellbeing. Regular exercise and stress reduction are activities that can help a person live a healthier and a happier life.
Whatever avenue you choose to increase your endorphins, make a plan and stick with it. At the beginning of the week map out your activity plans and stick to your goal. In a short amount of time you will feel more energetic, sleep better, think clearer, and feel less stressed.