“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres
Background: “How to Fight Back Against Anxiety” could have been written in a single post, but because the issue of mental health is effecting over 40 million adults in the US alone I thought it would be helpful to explore each remedy on a deeper level. This is the second article in this three part series on anxiety.
Anxiety is an unpleasant, state of inner turmoil and apprehension. It is characterized by fear, tension, worried thoughts and manifests into physical symptoms such as a sweating, dizziness and heart palpitations.
In the first part of this series we looked at a brief introduction to the devastating effects of anxiety as well as our number one natural remedy, meditation. Meditation was listed first because of its unique ability to naturally reinforce other positive habits including remedy # 2 – I just love this one……
I work in a busy accounting office. During tax season we hunker down in our worn chairs and prepare for seems like a long nuclear winter. Resisting the urge to run circles like a caged dog, we convince ourselves not to lunge through the second story window. After a couple months when the dust clears, rubbing our aching necks we anxiously emerge from our cubicles, shielding our eyes from the light and cracking our carpal tunnel infected hands.
In the olden days exercise came effortlessly, men hunted and women took care of the household chores. They expended energy on a daily basis, maybe documentation was an issue but there doesn’t seem to be a lot reports of mental health issues plaguing villages.
The reality of our modern world is we sit, sometimes all day. We have no reason to hunt; we pop by the grocery store for dinner. We don’t need to beat our clothes over rocks to wash them; we stuff them into our high powered front loader washing machines or maybe our maid does.
So we sit, and this is directly related to epidemic states of anxiety and stress. Exercise releases endorphins, this make the brain feel good and reduces the body’s stress hormones. Scientists throw around terms such as cortisol and adrenaline, but I’ll take their word for it; I have already made my own conclusions based on how I feel after a run. Great!
So I’m just gong to get to the point; being sedetary causes anxiety. We need to exercise. I’m sure our ancestors would have been confused and a little humoured if they could have looked through time telescopes at images of us running on treadmills going nowhere, but this is a reality of our modern world. Dust off those running shoes.
Tips for incorporating exercise into your daily routine:
1. Find an exercise you love
Yoga, running, walking, hiking, sports, weightlifting, zumba; whatever it is, make sure you enjoy it and you’ll increase your chances of sticking with it.
My exercise of choice is yoga and running. These practices have changed my life. Yoga incorporates mind, body and spirit and I love the philosophy. And running because there is nothing better than being out in nature, smelling the fresh air while experiencing a runner’s high.
2. Set a goal and write it down
Start with realistic, achievable short term goals. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you will progress.
My first goal was a 5K race, which I was able to achieve in two months. I began with intervals of one minute of running followed by one minute of walking, I gradually increased my running intervals until I was running 30 minutes without rest. My goal was realistic and I had a plan. After my 5K race, I set a new goal, a 10K race.
3. Make time
My office recently had a fitness challenge and being on the Wellness committee the most common complaint I heard was “we don’t have time.” This is just an excuse for people who want results without putting in any work. Everyone has time.
10 minutes a day is all you need to get started. Wake up slightly earlier than the rest of your household and go for a walk. Keep a time inventory for a few days, you will begin to see trends of wasted time blocks, use this information to schedule fitness into your day.
4. Find a work out buddy
You are more likely to stick to your workout goals if you are accountable to someone. If you plan to meet a friend at 9 am, your not likely to bail. Choose your spouse, friend or co-worker, but make sure it’s someone who will motivate you and encourage a weekly routine.
If your work out buddy is constantly bailing, they might not be the best motivator, choose your fitness pal wisely. My running mate is a co-worker of mine, not only it is a lot of fun but it has also made work more enjoyable by infusing friendly competition into ho-hum days at the office.
5. Exercise is a lifestyle not a destination
Realize that exercise is a lifestyle, not a six week boot camp program. Once the six weeks are over its not finished. Like washing your hair or eating, you need to incorporate exercise into your daily life.
It takes 3 weeks to create a habit, so start now!