We hear all the time how we should exercise to boost our mood. Exercise has been proven to help in the management of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, as well as ADHD. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins: a “happy” chemical, which has immediate results as a mood enhancer. Regular exercise also improves memory and mental clarity, improves the quality of your sleep, and boosts your daily energy levels.
It’s no secret that being active can help your mental health. But did you know that you don’t have to “exercise” in the conventional sense to reap those benefits? There are many barriers to a “normal” exercise routine, including comfort, physical ability, and mental hurdles. What you can do one day may be different from your ability the next, or the routines that come to mind may be ableist and not really an option for your personal needs.
So, what can you do to move your body without a typical exercise routine?
Take a Walk
It’s the most obvious way to get exercise without the pressure and ability issues of hitting the gym, but even just taking a short walk around the block or to your mailbox can make a big difference! Whether that walk looks like a stroll through your favorite local park, walking between shops as you run errands, or just making it to your kitchen and back to grab a snack or fill your water glass, that little bit of movement can make a big difference in your overall physical and mental health.
And remember: a “walk” also applies to those using mobility assistance devices! Getting out and feeling the sunshine on your face and breathing fresh air is a great way to boost your mood!
Vibe to Some Music
A way to move your body that you may forget about because you do it without realizing: vibe to some tunes! Whether you have a full-out solo dance party or just find yourself swaying your body and bobbing your head along with the beat of your favorite song, that little bit of movement still counts. Plus, you’re also gaining additional mental health benefits from just listening to music!
Stretch It Out
A great routine to have: doing some daily stretches! We carry a lot of tension in our bodies, particularly in our neck and shoulders, so doing something to help alleviate that can help our overall physical well-being as well as our mental health. Full body stretches like a pre- or post-workout session or yoga poses are great, but even just doing some deskercise stretches can make a big difference for those of us who spend long hours sitting every day!
Grow Something Green
A surprising way to get your body moving? Grow something! Whether you have a solitary house plant, a window box of herbs, or a full outdoor garden, planting and routine caring for our green friends is a great way to move your body regularly and see an external result of your efforts. Believe it or not, studies have shown that being around plants can boost your mental and emotional health…so why not bring some of those benefits home?
Play with a Furry Friend
Last, but certainly not least: embrace that cute furry friend of yours and spend some quality time together! We’ve already talked about the benefits of having an emotional support animal for mental health, and the external motivation to move your body is just one of so many. Even if you yourself are not able to have a pet, spending time with a friend’s companion animal or volunteering with an animal rescue are great ways to get involved and experience the special love that only animals can share.