Have you ever noticed how before a workout you might feel fatigued, stressed out, down, or even angry, then immediately afterwards you feel on top of the world, able to throw those negative thoughts into the garbage, and ready to take on the rest of the day? Most of us are familiar with the energy that we get from moving our bodies, but how often is it that we utilize these positive changes from exercise when we really need it?
After my workout this morning with November Project, I was driving home feeling super invigorated. Lately, with wedding planning, working quite a bit, upcoming travel, and trying to manage a lot of other things going on, I've been trying to do two super important things:
1) Sleep a FULL seven to eight hours, meaning that if I'm waking up at 5:15 AM the next day, I need to be in bed by 9:30 PM so I can fall asleep by 10 PM at the latest. This is something that I also recommend constantly to my clients - sleep is everything! And can set the tone for the entire day ahead upon waking.
2) Work out at least four mornings a week to feel both energized and awake, but also confident and calm, throughout the day ahead.
With life being super full right now, these two simple tools have helped me stay on track. But this morning post-workout, as I was singing with the windows down, raring to go, and ready to tackle my to-do list for the day, I realized even more so how necessary exercise is for not only keeping your body feeling good, but your mind, as well.
(Photo courtesy of November Project DC)
It's been long known that exercise is a natural stress-reducer, making a trip to the gym more than just a sweat session. In fact, exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, neuroticism and mood disorders with as little as two to three days a week spent exercising for approximately an hour.
Though all exercise reduces stress and anxiety, releases endorphins and gives you that sky-high feelin', high intensity workouts may show more rapid reduction in anxiety sensitivity. When you're ready, jump into a fun dance cardio class, take a bike ride through the country, a long run down your favorite streets, or try something new at your neighborhood fitness studio or find a community such as November Project. You can also find many workouts online, such as barre, Pilates, HIIT and more.
If a feeling of being tired, or "tired and wired", is present when it’s time to move your body, ease in with something slower such as a yoga class or self-guided yoga flow, gentle swim, or a walk outside. When this feeling is present, you might be at risk for adrenal fatigue and should make sure you keep any exercise to very short timespans, or very low intensity. In this case, walking is amazing, as it doesn't raise your heart rate very high, and is known to reduce your blood pressure and release the same endorphins you receive when working out at a higher intensity.
Grounding or Earthing, the act of walking barefoot on the Earth to absorb electrons, would also be super valuable during these times. Grounding has been shown to reduce inflammation, help to heal injuries, increase electrical activity in the brain, restore blood flow and calm stress in the body. A simple walk in the woods, on the beach or in your backyard sans shoes is all you need to feel the advantages.
No matter your preference for exercise, find a little time (about 30 minutes to an hour) everyday for moving your body. Whether this means gentle stretching on your mat, a long, leisurely walk to work, hitting the pavement with a running buddy or pumping out a weight lifting sesh, do what feels good to you - your body AND mind will pay you back tenfold!