Exercise as an antidote to depression and anxiety is not a new concept. In the 18th century Scotland, doctors in mental hospitals prescribed heavy farm chores as "the best medicine" for their patients and documented marked improvements in mood and behavior.
Now scientists are studying the link between exercise and mood changes at close range and coming up with some fascinating results.
One expert in the field says "exercise is clearly associated with mental-health benefits." And moderate exercisers show lowered blood-pressure levels and a resultant positive mood. The key is moderate exercise, performed a minimum of 30 minutes, three or four times a week. Brisk walking, swimming, lifting weights, and bicycling - all achieve good results.
People who exercise regularly, even at something as simple as walking or bicycling, are more flexible. They experience less stress on the muscles and joints when they do bend down the wrong way. Conditioned muscles recover faster, too. It's the couch potato who hauls himself erect one Saturday afternoon to rake the leaves or shovel snow who has trouble.
The big problem we all face these days is living a stressful life. All families seem to be too busy to sit down together and share the joys and pleasures of life. The little things that once mattered are no longer important and now there is a race for more money, more time and more material possessions.
By using simple relaxation techniques, exercising and making changes in our lifestyles, we can manage stress and take control of your lives! Once you have become aware of stress, it's time to relax! There are many techniques for relaxing (and no one method is better than another), but the most basic is deep breathing. One of the body's automatic reactions to stress is rapid, shallow breathing. Breathing slowly and deeply is one of the ways you can "turn off" your stress reaction and "turn on" your relaxation response.
Still another relaxation technique that can help you reduce stress is "clearing your mind." Since your stress response is a physical and emotional interaction, giving yourself a mental "break" can help relax your body as well. When you clear your mind, you try to concentrate on one pleasant thought, work, or image and let the rest of your worries slip away. A short and quiet walk can do wonders and just a walk around the block will clear your head and often give you a new spurt of energy.
Muscle and joint aches and pains are a common complaint for many of us, living as we do in a sedentary, high-stress society. The cliché warning us to "use it or lose it" isn't far off the mark. Our bodies pay the price for long hours slumped at our desks or nestled in a soft chair watching television. And if you think some of our aches and pains are just another consequence of ageing, you're wrong - more often, it's a result of inactivity and weaker muscles.
Doctors now say that walking is one of the best exercises. It helps the total circulation of blood throughout the body, and thus has a direct effect on your overall feeling of health. There are things such a aerobics, jogging, swimming and many other exercises which will benefit a person both physically and mentally. Researchers agree that exercise helps to ease anxiety and lift spirits.