Learn the Benefits of Movement
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Identify the health and wellbeing benefits of physical activity.
- Explain how physical activity improves your mental wellbeing.
- Describe the relationship between physical activity and stress.
From boosting your fitness to improving your brain function, we’ve all heard about the benefits of physical activity. This is backed up by science—yes, physical activity is that awesome. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adequate physical activity:
- Enhances cardiovascular fitness.
- Improves bone health.
- Reduces the risk of chronic diseases and conditions.
- Promotes energy balance and weight control.
- Boosts immunity.
Still, it can be difficult to make fitness a priority. Not to worry. Movement is more than just exercise. What we’re talking about here is any bodily movement that requires energy.
That’s right, every little bit of movement during the day—from walking the dog to cooking dinner to doing desk stretches at work—counts. So, whether it’s trying a new fitness class or playing outside, it helps to focus on incorporating more joyful movement during your day so that you’re poised to get these benefits.
Then, when you feel you’re ready to do more, do it. Find what you like and keep going. Salesforce and Camp B-Well is here to help you.
Movement isn’t just beneficial for your body, it’s good for your mind, too. According to Psychology Today, physical activity can help prevent depression and anxiety, and reduce stress. Studies like the one in Health Psychology Open also show that your mental wellbeing improves when you engage in regular physical activity.
Yes, your fitness routine can impact your mental wellbeing. Another study in The Lancet Psychiatry finds that exercisers experience 43% fewer days of poor self-reported mental health than nonexercisers. The study finds that exercising 3 to 5 days per week is most beneficial for your mental wellbeing. So, good news, you don’t have to spend all your free time exercising to keep your brain healthy!
Why is physical activity so good for your mental wellbeing? For one, it can stimulate certain parts of your brain associated with mental wellbeing. Specifically, in regions of the hippocampus—the center of emotion, learning, and memory.
Also, when you’re active, your heart rate increases and pumps more oxygen and nutrients to your brain. This provides nourishment for your brain cells to grow and neurons to make new connections. Plus it triggers the production of feel-good endorphins and other mood-regulating neurotransmitters (Psychology Today). Pretty cool, huh?
According to J. Kip Matthews, PhD, a sport and exercise psychologist, exercise provides an opportunity to practice responding to stress in a productive way. And the more you move, the better your stress response becomes (CNN).
While it’s normal to experience some stress, too much stress is harmful for your body and mind. According to a survey from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, more than half of working adults in the US experienced work-related stress in the past 12 months. And it’s not just the US—the 2016 International Labour Organization report shows that global stress in the workplace is on the rise.
Studies like the one in EXCLI Journal show that chronic stress can lead to poor health conditions and diseases, including decreased brain functioning, impaired learning and memory, heart disease, weakened immunity, and gastrointestinal (GI) problems. But why exactly?
When your body responds to stress, it sets off a cascade of events. From triggering the release of hormones and chemical reactions in your body to stimulating neurotransmitters in your brain, stress changes the way your body and mind function (EXCLI Journal).
This is all the more reason why it’s so important to make time for physical activity.
Movement does a body and mind good. Physical activity improves your physical and mental wellbeing and can help you deal with stress at work and home. In the next unit, we take a look at the different types of movement and explore new ways to move your body. Let’s get to it!
- Physical activity World Health Organization
- The relationship between physical inactivity and mental wellbeing Health Psychology Open
- Association between physical exercise and mental health The Lancet Psychiatry
- How Your Mental Health Reaps the Benefits of Exercise Psychology Today
- Why endorphins (and exercise) make you happy CNN
- Why Some Stress Can Be Good for You Psychology Today
- The Workplace and Health Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- Workplace Stress International Labour Organization
- The impact of stress on body function EXCLI Journal