Body Esteem and Exercise

Created by susan on 2019-01-20 18:39:10

I have a confession! I am not a lover of exercise even though I am married to a jock! Aside from ballroom dancing, my favorite part of exercise is when it is over and I have less stress and enjoy a glass of California chardonnay! The good news is that you do not have to like exercise to be committed to an exercise regimen. You simply need to find value in the psychological and physical benefits in order to be compliant. 

The psychological benefits of exercise are numerous: improved mood, reduced anxiety, less stress, and minimization of depressive symptoms, which can produce an increase in libido. It is interesting that men become more committed to exercise when they discover this fact! Exercise also helps with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) to which lack of ultraviolet light is a contributing factor and is a condition more common in women than men. It makes perfect sense that one of the top resolutions each January is to get more exercise! 

Dance therapy and yoga have been used as an adjunct treatment for positive body image. Ballroom dancing utilizes both mental and physical requirements and has a significant impact on cognitive functioning over just exercising or completing a mental task by itself. I convinced my husband to take up ballroom dance lessons years ago and I think it is more challenging for the male because he has to lead the steps. Initially our teacher recommended we dance in our slippers because we kept stepping on each other’s toes, but we eventually progressed to dance shoes! Multi-tasking can sometimes be a challenge, but it may be easier if you are achieving other objectives simultaneously along with your physical activity. 

If you love music or books on tape plug one in as you go for a walk in your neighborhood. Once you attend the next concert you will be familiar with the music and prepared for the book club meeting. Learn a foreign language such as French as you use the elliptical. Binge watch your favorite series or watch a good thriller while you are on the rowing machine and time will fly! Satisfy your competitive nature while competing with others via the peloton. If you are a new mother experiencing postpartum depression and it is difficult to find time to exercise join a stroller strides class for new moms. Think outside the box, I recently saw that Trisha Yearwood did a goat yoga class with her friends and made them lunch afterwards! It was hilarious, but one exercise that will always be remembered.

In addition, recent studies reveal that exercise contributes to brain health and enhances brain functioning. Exercise increases one’s heart rate which pumps more oxygen to the brain and it releases a plethora of hormones that provide a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells. Analogous to a lush garden that produces healthy fruits and vegetables. You have probably heard of “runner’s high” which acts as a mood elevator and decreases stress hormones. A study in Stockholm found that the antidepressant effect of running was also associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Find reasons to motivate yourself to adhere to an exercise routine and all the while you are improving your psychological functioning, brain health, and checking off your to do list!