By Dan Katz, LCSW
So, what are you going to do…………
Get up and get some exercise, or grab the remote and head for the couch?We’ve all asked ourselves this question lots of times. If you’re one of the people that usually gets up and gets going, that’s great for your physical health, as well as for your mental health. If you’re one of the people that too often chooses the couch, I’ve got some interesting information for you.
Regular exercise of 15-30 minutes, three or four times a week, can have a fantastic influence on all aspects of your health. Even moderate exercise, including walking, has been shown to increase levels of endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good hormones, and serotonin, which helps regulate your feelings of calm and well-being. Exercise is often referred to as “nature’s antidepressant.”
Try to visualize your whole self as being four corners on a square, or rectangle. Each of the four corners connect to each other, and affect each other, with your sense of your whole self in the middle. When any one of the four points of your whole self is changed, each of the others change as well. The four corners of the self can be described as:
Thoughts Feelings Behavior Physical Sensations
Exercise changes your physical sensations, getting you more connected with your body. Exercise is actually a form of mindfulness practice, allowing you to reduce the time you focus on negative thoughts, uncomfortable feelings, or unhealthy behaviors. Exercise helps to create shifts in focus, because you have to pay attention to what your body is doing. This is a natural way to reduce anxiety and depression, and to increase concentration and quality sleep.
When you’re getting your body as healthy as it can be, you are more likely to feel better about yourself (self esteem), think more positively about what you can do (confidence), and behave in more self sustaining ways (self care). It’s perfectly OK to start small— walking around the block, going up and down stairs a few times, even stretching in your living room. Gradually building up to an exercise routine is a goal, and not necessarily immediately achieved.
Here are some tips to get yourself started:
1. pick some movement that is easy, or something you already like to do
2. try to plan a regular time to exercise, if your schedule permits (setting an alarm may help)
3. sign up for a class to attend
4. enlist a friend to exercise with you
5. reward yourself with something healthy when you have exercised
6. share your achievements with your friends or family
Good luck with getting moving!
Dan Katz is a licensed clinical social worker #7153 in California. He works at Inspired Life Counseling as a therapist and sees clients both in person and online. Dan is an incredibly insightful and personable therapist who has a way about creating space for conversation while also diving in deep into the heart of the matter. He does not dilly dally around an issue and he respects your time and presence in the session. In addition to everything else he excels in, he is also passionate about healthy coping skills and improving our mind and brain function through physical movement and helping people find alternatives to therapy and medicines as continued therapies during and after their season on the couch is over. If you’d like to look into scheduling an appointment with Dan, click the button below: