It’s pretty well known that physical inactivity can contribute to many health issues including heart disease, diabetes, cancer. But did you also know that too much sitting can also take a toll on your mental health?

Due to the current global pandemic, many of us are coping with a range of emotions. This situation can spark feelings of anxiety, depression, and fear- even among the happiest individuals. 

Research suggests that moving more can improve mental health by reducing the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and unmanaged stress.  Individuals who are physically active have lower rates of anxiety and depression.

Running

It has also been suggested that regular exercise may be as effective as psychotherapy in managing mood. Psychotherapy is a form of therapy commonly used to treat mood disorders. 20-40 minutes of aerobic exercise can help improve your mood for several hours.

In addition, exercise can help your body respond to stress. 

The post-workout “high”  experienced after a tough sweat session isn’t all in your head. Chemicals called endorphins are to thank for the mood-boosting benefits of exercise. These chemicals are released from your body when you move and act as “natural painkillers.” This chemical process triggers feelings of euphoria and well-being. You may know this as the popular “runners high” that many experience.

 

 

Although most gyms are still closed, and set to open partially in the coming weeks, there are so many other ways to get active!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Hike one of Philadelphia’s beautiful trails
  • Take advantage of free Youtube workouts at home
  • Go for a run, walk, or bike ride with your family or friends
  • Look for creative ways to stay active at home 

Do your mental health a favor and get out and move!

Important resources on COVID-19: 

  • For the latest information and updates on COVID-19 coronavirus in Philadelphia: phila.gov/COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Text Alerts: Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone.
  • Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline: Call the 24/7 helpline to speak with a health care professional. 1-800-722-7112 
Although studies have shown that exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, it should never take the place of consultation with a mental health professional. If you are experiencing symptoms of major depression or generalized anxiety, consider talking with your counselor about adding exercise to your treatment plan.