Get Movin’ for Mental Health!

Post by Laura Jay-Ballinger

Would you like to reduce stress?  Would you like to sleep better at night and feel more energized during the day?  Wouldn’t it be nice to feel less tired and more mentally alert?  There is a remarkably simple solution to make these things happen: exercise!

Physical activity is a great way to keep your body healthy but it has several benefits for your emotional health as well.  Exercise has been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Activities like walking, running, biking, swimming, and dancing release endorphins and actually help you feel better.  It also gives you a good opportunity to get outside and with spring arriving soon, we could all use a little sunshine (see previous blog post, Blue Monday).

So, you know the benefits of exercise but still have trouble finding the time to do it?  Below are some ways to help make physical activity a priority in your life.

1.)   Make it something enjoyable!  No one says you have to get on a treadmill for an hour to exercise.  Do something you like and that fits with your life.  Take your kids to the park and play with them.  Try gardening.  Join a class that provides aerobic exercise to fun music or take a relaxing yoga class.

2.)   Make it social.  Get an exercise buddy.  Having a partner helps keep you accountable and also provides time to be with that person.  Maybe it’s something you can do with your spouse or with an old friend with whom you don’t get much time.  The social interaction that can come with exercise (either with a friend or in a class at a local rec center) is another way to boost your mood.

3.)   Be realistic.  You likely won’t have washboard abs after two workouts, and that’s okay.  Take it easy on yourself and your expectations for exercise.  Notice the positive changes you do experience like more regular, restful sleep and more energy.  Praise yourself for taking good care of the one self (physical and emotional) that you have.

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