Supporting your Emotional Wellness with Physical Activity

By Michelle Dawes, M.S., Health Coach and Wellness Consultant, AllOne Health

Engaging in regular physical activity, along with eating a nutritious diet and practicing other types of self-care, can improve emotional well-being. In fact, research has shown that an individual’s stress response is diminished after physical activity, both immediately and over time. This means regular exercise can help us become more resilient!

Earlier in 2023, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published the most comprehensive study to date, showing that physical activity is extremely effective for improving symptoms of depression and anxiety. The researchers also stated that all forms of exercise seem to improve symptoms within just a few months of beginning exercise.

Current physical activity recommendations for overall physical health include a combination of cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and flexibility/mobility exercises. More specifically, guidelines state that healthy adults should engage in at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of intensities to meet time guidelines).

Additionally, it is recommended to engage in two or more sessions of resistance training each week to strengthen muscles. These recommendations may seem unattainable to many, however, it’s worth remembering that some exercise is almost always better than nothing and consistency is key! Furthermore, meeting these recommendations is not necessary to begin experiencing improved emotional well-being.

Would you like to experience the benefits of improved emotional wellness by incorporating more physical activity into your life? With so many options, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Perhaps you are currently active but now feel “in a rut” with your routine. As a fitness professional, I would encourage you to explore different types of physical activity to discover what brings you joy.

You could also try exercising with a group instead of solo. Interestingly, exercising in a group has been shown to lower stress! A study in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association investigated a group of medical students who chose to exercise with others in a group fitness class or by themselves. After six weeks, participants who exercised with the group reported significantly less stress and improvements in their mental, physical, and emotional wellness. Participants who exercised solo generally exercised longer but experienced no significant change in stress levels.

Whatever type of activity you choose, I would encourage you to stay present and mindful. Perhaps you silence notifications on your phone or intentionally focus on the beauty of nature around you. Enjoy the process and the joy of movement!

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Supporting your Emotional Wellness with Physical Activity – Insights Newsletter