We all know that exercise is good for us, but when you’re experiencing grief and your thoughts and emotions are working overtime it can be hard to find the energy or motivation to get your body moving.
Well, if you need another little push toward starting or restarting a routine of regular exercise, there is ever-mounting evidence showing that exercise doesn’t just promote physical health but mental health as well. Which, when you think about it, just makes sense right? Your brain is part of your body; healthier body, healthier brain.
Thankfully researchers have put this theory to the test and are confidently connecting exercise with improved mood and overall mental health. If you want to read what some of those folks have to say to help you get motivated we recommend: HelpGuide.org, PsychologyToday.com, or The Wall Street Journal
The gist of the research is that a moderate amount of exercise can make a difference in your mental health. HelpGuide suggests, “You can reap all the physical and mental health benefits of exercise with 30-minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. Two 15-minute or even three 10-minute exercise sessions can also work just as well.” Ten minutes at breakfast lunch and dinner times? That’s totally doable.
So, you don’t need to go through the big production of packing a gym bag, changing your clothes, driving to a fitness club, running 30 minutes on the treadmill then hammering out reps on the free weights. (Sheesh! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.) It can be as simple as taking a walk down your block, or walking around your building during your lunch break. If you live in a cold weather climate, the mall is a great place to get in some steps. Or maybe just do ten minutes of active stretching or sweeping your floors.
According to Adam Chekroud’s study (also see the WSJ link above) the kinds of exercise that got the most positive results were ones that involved a group or team, or those that included an element of mindfulness, like yoga or tai chi. Including a social element, like finding a buddy to be active with, can help keep you on track by creating a little accountability and might help combat the feelings of isolation that often accompany grief.
Including just a little exercise in your day can not only help loosen the aches and pains associated with stress and grief, but lowers your risk for many serious illnesses, and can help protect and improve your mental health.
Since there’s no time like the present, get up now (if you are able) and spend the next 10 minutes doing something physical with your body. Seriously. Right now. Get up. Go.
At the end of the 10 minutes you’ll be 1/3 the way through your exercise for the day.
What a champion you are! Look at you go!
Thanks for visiting Grief Compass. We’re sorry you have to be here, but are glad we’ve found each other.
Subscribe to get more practical, approachable tips and insights for modern folks dealing with grief. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.