A healthy mind: How exercise can improve your mental wellness

A healthy mind: How exercise can improve your mental wellness

25/01/2023

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It’s common knowledge that physical activity is good for the body, but there is growing evidence that being physically active is also good for the soul. Can you explain the science behind it? How does our brain reward us for moving?

Beyond cells and molecules, what role does our mind play in how it perceives the mental health benefits of physical activity?

How much physical activity (per day or per week) do we need to reap all these benefits?

Does it matter whether we’re physically active in the morning, afternoon or evening?

Is all exercise equally good for us?

Is ‘runners high’ a real thing or a myth? Can you get a high from any exercise?

How has the MoveU.HappyU program been helping students relieve stress and anxiety?

What would you advise students—and others—who want to become more physically active but can’t commit to a six week program?

  • Look for drop-in programs and activities on campus offered through KPE’s Sport and Recreation program. Try different activities and find your favorites that you can return to again and again.
  • Try to incorporate more distance for your movement—get off the bus or subway one or two stops earlier or later, park the car further away from your destination and take the longer path to classes. Always take the stairs or ramp instead of the elevator or escalator. Schedule an extra 20 minutes into your calendar to allow for your active commuting.
  • Move with intention but without a purpose. When shopping, move around the entire center or store rather than just getting what you need. For example, walk or wheel every aisle in the supermarket even if you only need vegetables. Move around the entire bookstore rather than just grabbing what you need.
  • Move with your coffee/tea/juice instead of sitting in the café. Try to have movement-based meetings with others or while you are planning your group assignments. If you are working in groups a lot, assign one person per meeting to lead a 3–5 minute movement activity.
  • Stand up or move as much as possible throughout the day. There is new evidence that breaks in sedentary time are very important for health. We also have some fun videos that can be used as fitbreaks during classes, too.
  • Use technology to “gamify” your activity. For example, buy a pedometer and try to take a few extra steps each day. If you like competition and support, invite others to join you in the goal of getting in more movement time or distance. If you are spending a lot of time outside, you could also use an online mapping program or smartphone applications that use GPS to show you how far you commute. You could even start mapping your routes and try to be creative about the art you can create.

Any tips on staying motivated for physical activity, especially on gray, chilly days of the sort we’ve been having lately?

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