How do you find opportunities to move when you’re sequestered inside due to wildfire smoke or other weather events? During times like these, it’s helpful to get creative. As I’ve previously said in sessions with psychotherapy clients, we need to defuse the dreaded “e-word” of exercise (and its shame-filled baggage) and find pleasurable, mindful ways to move our bodies. To simply savor that we have bodies to move, and to give our precious bodies a brief reprieve from a life filled with so much sitting in front of screens.
For decades, medical and mental health professionals have touted the benefits of exercise. Physical activity is one of the most frequently underutilized and yet positively impactful interventions we can reach for, especially in the midst of stress. However, let’s face it – many of us don’t move nearly as much as we should.
Here in our own house with a walkability index of zero and the current hazardous air quality levels due to local wildfires, we’re doing what we can to move. Every step, stretch, pose, jump rope session, and dance party counts. “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect,” according to one American Psychological Association article. If you don’t already have favorite workout videos or exercises that you incorporate into your weekly schedule, consider a couple of these more playful ideas:
You’ll notice that I didn’t mention fitness or weight loss in this posting, and you won’t find them in any of my other mindful eating (or therapeutic horticulture) posts, either. I’ll leave that business to my other professional colleagues: licensed dietitians, physicians, and other exercise specialists who are trained in Health at Every Size. But if you’re interested in the mind/body health benefits of movement – and there are quite a few, check out the links below.
Most importantly, however, show up for your body. Give yourself some rest, some love, some yummy food, and some mindful movement. Do things that feel good for your body and savor what you can.
The exercise effect, from the American Psychological Association
Working out boosts brain health, from the American Psychological Association
Dance like your doctor is watching: It’s great for your mind and body, from Time Magazine
Yoga – benefits beyond the mat, from Harvard Medical School