It’s that time of year again—a time of cool breezes, colored leaves and holiday preparation. Fall and winter are exciting times… Unless you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you struggle with winter depression, this time of year is not filled with joy and anticipation. Instead, you probably feel like hiding under the covers until spring arrives in several months…
**What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?**
Everyone has the blues now and then. But SAD is a depressive state that occurs seasonally, year after year, usually in the fall and winter. If you suffer from SAD, you may feel perfectly normal during the spring and summer months, but starting around October or November, symptoms begin showing up.
Because this type of depression come and goes with the seasons, you may wonder if it is all in your head. It isn’t. This is a real condition and can have a devastating impact on your life.
Researchers still don’t know the exact cause of SAD, but there are some factors that seem to be involved, and they involve the decreased amount of sunlight that fall and winter bring.
• Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that impacts mood and sleep. As the seasons change, your melatonin levels can fluctuate and may cause feelings of depressions.
• Serotonin: When the amount of sunlight drops, so can your serotonin levels. Since this chemical helps you have feelings of well-being and happiness, not having enough of it can cause your mood to drop.
• Internal clock: Some scientists think that decreased sunlight disrupts your normal rhythms of wakefulness and sleepiness. The result is sad and depressed feelings.
What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
SAD will often manifest itself as feelings of sadness or depression. You may feel as though you cannot get enough sleep—struggling to get out of the bed in the morning, feeling drowsy during the day and going to bed earlier than you usually do.
Your energy and concentration may also run low, and this can affect your productivity at work and at home. Of course, not having the energy to ‘get things done,’ only leads to frustration and more feelings of depression. You may also notice weight gain. Typically, SAD sufferers will crave foods high in carbohydrates and can gain between 9 and 30 pounds each year.
Finally, your social life may suffer. If you are depressed, you just won’t enjoy being around others as much as you used to. This can turn into social withdrawal which makes your feelings of depression and sadness even worse.
Now for the Good News – Ways to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
If you think that you may be one of the millions of people who are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, you will be happy to know that you have many treatment options available. Try experimenting with different treatments until you find one or a combination that works for you:
1. Light therapy: Up to 85% of winter depression sufferers are helped by simply sitting under a therapy light. The bright light stabilizes the out-of-balance chemicals in your body, helping you to feel less depressed and more like yourself. The best lights are those between 2,500 and 10,000 lux.
2. Vitamin D3: Vitamin D is frequently referred to as “The Sunshine Vitamin” because your body produces it when exposed to sunlight. In fact, just 20-30 minutes of sunlight will produce 10,000 – 50,000 IUs of Vitamin D. Why is this important? Vitamin D is actually a hormone that has important roles in supporting a healthy heart, cellular replication, immune system, mood & mental health, muscles, blood sugar levels, and more!
3. Exercise: Exercise is a powerful player in the fight against SAD. When you exercise, your body releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals cause you to feel happy, confident and bring about a feeling of well-being. The elated feelings that endorphins bring are comparable to the feelings that morphine and heroin create. To release endorphins, you will need to sustain your workout for about 30 minutes.
4. Dawn Simulators: Unlike the spring months, in which the light of dawn and dusk changes gradually, the winter months bring a much more abrupt change of light. This may be one of the aggravators of SAD. Try a dawn simulator. These appliances can be programmed, much like an alarm clock, to gradually brighten your room each morning before you wake up. Some SAD sufferers have had great success with dawn simulators.
You are not alone if you are beginning to feel depressed with the shortened days that we are experiencing. Experiment with some of the treatment options and especially start exercising. Before you know it, the days will begin lengthening out again!
With busy schedules, meetings, work, home life, family and obligations, you may want to spend more of your free time doing the things you love...
Which means you may not always get your workouts in.
Today, you’re going to learn the best way to train your legs—with no equipment needed.
This at-home workout will give you everything you need to train the biggest muscle groups in your body.
Strong, well-defined legs show you’re serious about your training—and you care about your results. They protect your knees and back and are part of well-rounded body strength.
[Also: Your legs use the most nutrients—and when developed the right way, training your legs may spike your metabolism, and help you burn off unwanted pounds.] But getting a good leg work out at home may seem more challenging.
So…no more excuses for why you can’t train legs…
These exercises are sure to give your glutes, hamstrings, quads, hips, and all your stabilizing muscles a good workout.
Arguably the best exercise for developing the legs and glutes (your behind), the squat should be a staple in any leg workout you do. Not only does it target the muscles in your legs, when done correctly (with good form), the squat targets your core as well.
The lunge is a great exercise for developing the quads, hamstrings, and glutes…it also adds stress to your hips, which helps strengthen your stabilizing muscle groups. Not only is this exercise great for developing all the muscles in your legs, you might develop better stability and balance. Be careful of knees and of form.
3. Side Lunges
Similar to the lunge, this exercise targets many different muscles in your legs—although you’re working in a different plane of motion. Most of the work in this exercise comes from the glutes and the hips, which is ideal for developing strength in all the muscle groups in your legs.
This exercise is also important because your body moves in all planes of motion—so working your muscles in the same way your body moves is especially important for injury prevention and strength. Be mindful of knee position in this exercise.
4. Glute Bridge
This exercise, also called bridging or hip raises, is a perfect exercise for those with injuries or limitations in your knees, hips, or ankles. This exercise, which targets the glutes, hamstrings, hips, and lower back is ideal for those who want to work their legs, but aren’t quite strong enough, or recovering from an injury, for a full range squat. It is also good, in addition to a squat. Use your core and go slowly when doing this exercise.
5. Supine Stability Ball Leg Curl
This exercise is ideal for building strength in your leg muscles, while also building core strength. Although this exercise targets the major muscle in the legs, the attention is focused on the hamstrings, due to the flexion and extension of the knee.
If you want to transform your metabolism, and develop massive strength in your legs, you don’t need a gym to do it. You can get the same fat-blasting results in the comfort of your own home—by doing these 5 bodyweight exercises. These exercises will help you burn fat and build strong, sleek muscles.
If you’re unsure how to perform these exercises, or you would like help developing your own leg routine you can do at home—or in a gym--CONTACT ME to set up a time to discuss your program needs.
Tight quadriceps are a common finding with knee pain, as well as lower back and pelvic pain. Five simple exercises are outlined here that can help improve mobility and flexibility of the quads.
The Kneeling Lunge is a classic hip flexor stretch. But because the knee is flexed it tends to bias the stretch towards the rectus femoris muscle.
As long as one does not have issues with putting pressure on the knee this is usually a helpful stretch for the quads. Not only is it a great stretch, but is teaches one how to move through the hip. It also serves as a great precursor to the lunge exercise, which is often dysfunctional and needs to be retrained when the quads are tight.
To perform the stretch correctly it is important to make sure motion is coming from the hip. The two most common faults clients will use to get around the hip are to tilt the pelvis anterior and hyper-extend the lumbar spine, or to lean forward with their entire trunk. Perform a posterior pelvic tilt and abdominal brace helps prevent this first fault. Keep the shoulder stacked over the hips can help with the second fault.
It is best to shift forward until you feel a light stretch on the front of the thigh, hold that stretch for 1-2 seconds, then shift back to release the stretch. Perform 10-15 repetitions. Hold the last stretch for 15-30 seconds is another option.
Kneeling Lunge with Quad Focus
The classic Kneeling Lunge Stretch can easily be modified to increase the intensity of the stretch and to shift the focus even more towards the quads. This can be done by elevating the back foot. This stretch can be particularly effective where there is restriction between the rectus femoris and vasti group.
The additional knee flexion will further load the quads and create a deeper stretch. You can vary the height to which the foot is raised to match the capacity of the patient. Other than the raised foot, the execution of the stretch is the same as the Kneeling Lunge Stretch as described above.
Some clients will ask if they can simply reach around and hold the foot up with their arm. This is not advised as it complicates the stretch and usually causes the spine to rotate and extend.
Standing Quad Stretch
This is probably the most common quadriceps stretch. When patients are questioned about their current stretching routines this stretch is often on the list. While this can be an effective stretch (one of the biggest benefits is it can easily be done throughout the day), it is also one of the most poorly performed stretches.
Most people will arch the back and twist the spine as they perform this stretch. Usually this occurs as an attempt to reach the foot with their arm.
The better way to perform this stretch is to begin with the knee bent and the thigh positioned in front of the body. This places the foot under the hip making it easier to reach. From this position the key is to gently pull up on the foot to take the slack out of the quad. Then while maintaining this tension the patient can bring the thigh into extension until they feel a comfortable stretch.
With the quad pre-tensioned the thigh will rarely get all the way behind the body. And it doesn’t need to. The goal is only to feel a stretch. This is an important point.
Side Lying Quad Stretch
The Side Lying Quad Stretch is similar to the Standing Quad Stretch, but is performed in a non-weight bearing posture. This is a better option for those who have difficulty standing on a single leg. It can also be helpful for people who have trouble keeping their spine in the correct alignment.
Other than the side lying position the stretch is performed in the same manner. Start with the thigh in front, pre-tension the quad by pulling the foot towards the hip, then bring the thigh back.
Performing a posterior pelvic tilt and/or an abdominal brace can be a helpful addition for those with a tendency to hyper-extend the lower back.
Prone Quad AIS Stretch
Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) utilizes the contraction of opposing muscles groups in combination with passive assistance to achieve a deeper stretch. This is often used with muscle imbalances where there is a tight agonist along with a weak antagonist.
To perform an AIS stretch for the quad begin in a prone position with a stiff strap around one foot. The other end of the strap is held in the hand. Now actively pull the foot towards the hip. At the top of the motion gently pull the foot further towards the hip. This does not need to be a hard pull. It should be just enough to increase the stretch in the quad. Hold for 2 seconds then straighten the knee. Perform 10-15 repetitions.
Source: Dr. Jason Gray
Functional Strength for Older Adults Sample Class:
Use a three-pronged approach to help frail participants move better, get stronger and improve their balance.
Baby Boomers are constantly bombarded with promises to lift, tighten and rejuvenate their bodies and “turn back the clock.” Truthfully, fitness professionals can roll back the clock for older participants. When you improve strength and stability, you increase functionality and combat the effects of sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss).
This class targets the somewhat frail older adult with a three-pronged approach to functional strength. By addressing mobility, strength and balance, you improve posture, facilitate the activities of daily living, and reduce the risk of falling.
There are many exercises here that can be incorporated into all ages workouts for adults working and living at home, leading more stationary lives. These are good to do on days you are not training. Modify as needed.
Goal/Emphasis: to improve functional strength
Total Time: 60 minutes
Equipment Needed: Each participant needs a chair (with a back) and a Thera-Band® resistance band. You may need nonslip mats, depending on the flooring. Some exercises are performed against a wall; therefore, remove obstacles.
Precautions: The class is designed to put minimal stress on knees, wrists and elbows. Besides having limited movement abilities, frail adults may suffer from comorbidities like heart and lung disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and balance disorders. Modify moves to fit participants’ needs, and remember that intensity is important for this population too.
Warm-Up (15 minutes)
A dynamic warm-up doubles as the mobility phase of the workout. Participants begin each sequence standing, right (R) side to chair back. Perform 10–15 reps of each exercise per side unless otherwise indicated.
Slow marching. With chest lifted and shoulders relaxed (hand on chair if needed), begin slow march. Lift knees as high as ability allows, dorsiflexing ankles. Continue for 1 minute, about-face and repeat. Add knee extension: Hold lifted leg and slowly extend with good posture; bend knee, and lower foot to floor.
Toe and heel taps. Shift weight to leg closest to chair, move other leg in front, plantar-flex, and tap floor with toe. Dorsiflex to heel-tap (1 repetition).
Leg swings and circles. Begin with simple swings (front to back, side to side) and circles (lifted leg straight and bent). As ability improves, add single-leg bicycle, reverse bicycle and simple patterns (circle leg toward midline of body, tap foot on outside of support foot, circle back up, and open into knee lift on other side).
Turn and stand facing back of chair.
Head turns. Turn head side to side and up and down. Add diagonal patterns.
Ta-das. Face chair, both hands on chair back. Step R foot back, turn body, look over shoulder and lift R arm up and away, as if to say, “Ta-da!” Switch sides.
Chest opener. Take split stance behind chair. Raise arms in front of chest, elbows bent at 90 degrees, palms facing. Open arms to sides and bring them back to the front. Switch feet in split stance and open arms. Reach arms overhead, palms out, and return to start.
Arm swings and circles. As with leg swings and circles, start with simple front-to-back and circular moves, and progress to more complex patterns.
Back pat and back scratch. With R arm up, bend elbow and pat upper back. Left (L) arm goes behind back, palm out. See how close you can get your hands. Reverse arms and repeat (1 rep).
Strength Phase (30 minutes)
Sit toward front of chair seat. Perform each exercise 10–15 times on each side (as applicable).
Bellybutton squeeze. Sit upright, exhale and tighten abdominal muscles, pulling navel toward spine. Hold for 2 seconds.
Seated leg raise with hold. Sit upright, engage core, and lift leg off floor, holding for 2 seconds, then lower leg. Bend knees for less challenge; straighten and push through heel for more. Repeat on opposite side.
Triceps “push-off”/Sit to stand. With hands on seat, lean slightly forward from hip and use arms to push off. Return to start. Sit to stand (progression): Cross arms over chest for greater challenge (stabilize chair if needed). Add diagonal arm reach (up and to opposite side) for final progression.
Do the following seated or standing.
Scapular squeeze. Hold resistance band in both hands, arms straight out in front. Squeeze between shoulder blades as you bend elbows and pull back.
Single-arm chest press or “bubble” punch. Wrap resistance band around back, under arms; grip both ends. Alternate single-arm chest presses. Progression: Add speed to make the press a punch. For greater challenge, punch in all directions, as if trapped in a bubble and you’re trying to punch your way out.
Bent-elbow raise. Keep resistance band behind back, gripping with both hands, elbows at shoulder height, palms facing. Lift elbows as far above shoulder height as comfortable and then lower to start position. Advanced: Combine with sit to stand.
Triceps extension. Grip resistance band in both hands, R arm in “back pat” position, L arm in “scratch” position. Extend R arm. Switch sides.
Reverse wood chop. Grip resistance band in both hands, L hand on hip and R hand straight in front. With R arm, pull band diagonally R (follow with eyes). Return to start; repeat L.
Four-step wall push-up. Place hands on wall. Walk feet back so body is an an angle.
Focus Phase: Balance and Gait (10 minutes)
Lateral step-out. Standing behind chair for support, shift weight to one leg and take small steps to side with other leg. Progression: Bend knee slightly on last step. Increase challenge with step-to-side lunge (try other planes of motion).
Curtsy and cross-over. Use chair for support, if needed. Place foot behind body, bend knee and curtsy. Deepen curtsy if possible, and cross leg in front of body. Progression: Combine the moves.
Reaction drills. Perform seated or standing. Pick three “commands.” Keep them simple and start slow, in random order. For example: “When I say, ‘One,’ point your toe in front. On ‘Two,” take it to the side. On ‘Three,’ the foot goes behind.” Focus on upper body or lower body, or partner up.
Movie star walk. Practice heel-to-toe walking. Progression: Vary sensory cues (turn head side to side and/or wear sunglasses to challenge eyes). Walk around chairs or add obstacles to step over as added challenge (based on ability).
Stretch. Finish with 5 minutes of static stretching. Address all muscles worked during class, emphasizing chest, front of shoulders, hamstrings and calves.
Source: Leigh Crows
The intention to live a more mindful life is continuing to grow and touch an increasing amount of people. May these tips serve to help find more peace and purpose during this time. Perhaps take 1 or 2 and try them this week.
Here are 7 key habits of highly mindful people and some tips on how to integrate these habits into one's life.
1. They Hold Thoughts Lightly
Highly mindful people consistently monitor and observe what’s going on in their minds. They pay attention to what thoughts are arising in the mind but they hold them lightly.
What does ‘holding thoughts lightly’ mean? They don’t believe their thoughts and they don’t take them all that seriously. They’re also willing to question any conditioned patterns of thought and belief that do not serve them.
Through this kind of self-observation, they are able to step back and watch the mind instead of being swept in its current. They therefore free themselves from conditioned, reactive ways of living and thinking.
Any time you watch thoughts, you are being mindful. Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can, especially any repetititve thought patterns.
As you listen, aim to do so as an impartial witness. You’ll soon realize, “there is the voice, and here I am listening to it. I am not the mind.”
2. They Feel What They’re Feeling
Mindfulness isn’t about being perpetually happy. It’s about the complete acceptance of the present moment as it is. That means feeling what is here to be felt in this moment, without trying to resist or control it.
Even highly mindful people feel difficult emotions. They feel anger, sadness and fear sometimes, but what sets them apart is that they don’t try to avoid or deny these emotions.
They acknowledge what they’re feeling and allow it to be as it is. They know that emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant, come and go as a natural part of life.
That doesn’t mean they can’t respond to create change. In fact, they’re more able to do so.
By ‘being with’ life’s challenges in a mindful way, the highly mindful are able to remain centered and calm in the midst of it all. They’re able to respond rather than react and make wiser choices.
They also avoid excessive grasping at positive emotions. The paradox that highly mindful people understand, is that perpetually chasing positive emotions very often pushes them away and keeps us stuck in ‘doing’ mode.
They know that what makes us most fulfilled, what brings us the most peace, is actually simply being present in the moment, being with it all – the pleasant and unpleasant.
3. They Accept the Transient Nature of Things
Perhaps the most fundamental law of life is that every thing is constantly changing. Nothing is permanent.
We can listen with our ears and observe that sounds constantly arise, unfold and then disappear. We see with our eyes how over time the seasons change, how things age, and how the world continues to
Sensations, emotions and thoughts are always coming and going in awareness.
We’re born on this planet, we grow up, grow older and eventually pass away.
Highly mindful people understand, accept and contemplate the transient nature of things. Because of this, they are aware of the preciousness and sacredness of life and they savor each moment, and each day.
Because they accept what is transient, they become firmly rooted in the silent unchanging awareness that is at the core of their being; the space in which all that is transient comes and goes.
4. They Meditate
You can be mindful without meditating, but many highly mindful people have a regular practice of meditation.
Their testimonies attests to the fact that a consistent practice helps you stay awake and present during the ups and downs of daily life.
Try to maintain a daily routine of at least ten minutes (to start) a day, preferably first thing in the morning. That way, the energy of mindfulness can carry you through the rest of your day.
See my meditation class offering
5. They Do One Thing At a Time
There is a myth that multitasking makes us more productive; in reality, it drains us faster and makes us less efficient.
Studies have found that when people are dividing their attention (which is what multitasking is: flitting your attention back and forth quickly from one thing to another), it takes them 50 percent longer to accomplish a task and they’re 50 percent more likely to make errors.
The highly mindful focus on doing things just one thing at a time. They do each task with full awareness, one by one, moment by moment. They also take breaks before transitioning to another task.
It’s a more enjoyable, more efficient and more nourishing way to work and live.
Why not try this more mindful way of working as an experiment for the next week? See how it feels (and hey, let me know if you noticed anything differently).
6. They Turn Everyday Tasks Into Mindful Moments
Much of our daily life is taken up by everyday tasks such as housework, shopping, commuting, dressing and showering etc.￼
Instead of thinking of routine activities as ‘just boring chores’, highly mindful people make these tasks into mindfulness moments.
For instance, if doing the laundry, they don’t rush through it simply ‘getting it done’. Instead, they savor the moment, feeling the textures of the fabrics and perhaps noticing how fresh they smell. Even the folding becomes a sort of yoga practice, moving mindfully, attentive to each fold.
In this way, every little act becomes a sacred ritual.
Perhaps you could choose one activity to try this out with (brushing your teeth for example) and make it your mindfulness practice. Doing this you may soon come to realize that there is no such thing as a mundane moment, only mundane states of mind.
7. They Protect and Nurture Their Minds (and Bodies)
Highly mindful people are custodians of their bodies and minds. They make a habit of listening to their bodies and minds and discerning what is nourishing and what is draining. They deliberately and actively cultivate healthy ways of being.
They also avoid unhealthy ways of being. They pay careful attention to what they consume, ensuring they eat well and get enough rest and physical activity.
They’re equally careful not to feed their minds with ‘junk food’ like excessive tv, social media, mindless gaming, violence and trash magazines.
It doesn’t mean they never indulge in a glass of wine or watch movies. It just means that they have mostly nourishing things in their lives and not too much that is draining.
They treat their minds and bodies with love and respect, knowing that being kind to themselves is a gesture of love towards all life and makes mindful living much easier.
You already know that exercise is good for your body. But did you know it’s also effective in dealing with depression, anxiety, stress, and more?
What are the mental health benefits of exercise?
Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Sure, exercise can improve your physical health and your physique, trim your waistline, improve your sex life, and even addyears to your life. But that’s not what motivates most people to stay active.People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense ofwell-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharpermemories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, andmore. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts youroverall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Researchindicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age orfitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.
Exercise and depression
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively asantidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. As one example, a recentstudy done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. Inaddition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining anexercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing. Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotesall kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and newactivity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins,powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out ofthe cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.
Exercise and anxiety
Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress,boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release ofendorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if youpay attention instead of zoning out.Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm ofyour breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulnesselement—really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise—you’ll not onlyimprove your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow ofconstant worries running through your head.
Exercise and stress
Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painfulheadaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. Youmay also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, orfrequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turnlead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in thebrain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since thebody and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.
Exercise and ADHD
Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms ofADHD and improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activityimmediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of whichaffect focus and attention. In this way, exercise works in much the same way as ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.
Exercise and PTSD and trauma
Evidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of theimmobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD or trauma. Instead of allowing yourmind to wander, pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles,even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and that engage both arms and legs—such as walking (especially in sand), running, swimming,weight training, or dancing—are some of your best choices. Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing (downhill and cross-country) have also been shown to reduce the symptoms ofPTSD.
Other mental and emotional benefits of exercise
•Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also helpp | 4you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates thegrowth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.
• Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong andpowerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercisegoals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.
• Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulateyour sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga orgentle stretching can help promote sleep.
• More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise per day, and increase your workout asyou feel more energized.Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise canhelp you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negativebehaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse.
Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.
Reaping the mental health benefits of exercise is easier than you think
Wondering just how much activity will give you a mental health boost?
It’s probably not as much as you think. You don’t need to devote hours out of your busy day to train, sweat buckets, or run mile after mile. You can reap all the physical and mentalhealth 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. Even a little bit of activity is better than nothing If that still seems intimidating, don’t despair. Even just a few minutes of physical activity are better than none at all. If you don’t have time for 15 or 30 minutes of exercise, or if your body tells you to take a break after 5 or 10 minutes, for example, that’s okay, too. Start with 5- or 10-minute sessions and slowly increase your time. The more you exercise, the more energy you’ll have, so eventually you’ll feel ready for a little more. The key is to commit to some moderate physical activity—however little—on most days. As exercising becomes habit, you can slowly add extra minutes or try different types of activities. If you keep at it,the benefits of exercise will begin to pay off.
Research shows that moderate levels of exercise are best for most people. Moderate means:That you breathe a little heavier than normal, but are not out of breath. For example,
1. You should be able to chat with your walking partner, but not easily sing a song.
2. That your body feels warmer as you move, but not overheated or very sweaty.
Overcoming mental health obstacles to exercise
So now you know that exercise will help you feel much better and that it doesn’t take asmuch effort as you might have thought. But taking that first step is still easier said than done.
Exercise obstacles are very real—particularly when you’re also struggling with mental health. Here are some common barriers and how you can get past them.
• Feeling exhausted. When you’re tired or stressed, it feels like working out will just make it worse. But the truth is that physical activity is a powerful energizer. Studies show that regular exercise can dramatically reduce fatigue and increase your energy levels. If you are really feeling tired, promise yourself a 5-minute walk. Chances are, you’ll be able to go five more minutes.
• Feeling overwhelmed. When you’re stressed or depressed, the thought of adding anotherobligation can seem overwhelming. Working out just doesn’t seem doable. If you have children, managing childcare while you exercise can be a big hurdle. Just remember that physical activity helps us do everything else better. If you begin thinking of physical activity as a priority, you will soon find ways to fit small amounts into a busy schedule.
•Feeling hopeless. Even if you’re starting at “ground zero,” you can still workout.
•Exercise helps you get in shape. If you have no experience exercising, start slow with low-impactmovement a few minutes each day.
•Feeling bad about yourself. Are you your own worst critic? It’s time to try a new way of thinking about your body. No matter your weight, age or fitness level, there are others like you with the same goal of getting fit. Try surrounding yourself with people in your shoes. Take a class with people at a variety of fitness levels. Accomplishing even the smallest fitness goals will help you gain body confidence.
•Feeling pain. If you have a disability, severe weight problem, arthritis, or any injury orillness that limits your mobility, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to safely exercise. You shouldn’t ignore pain, but rather do what you can, when you can. Divide yourexercise into shorter, more frequent chunks of time if that helps, or try exercising in waterto reduce joint or muscle discomfort.
Getting started exercising when you’re anxious or depressed
Many of us find it hard enough to motivate ourselves to exercise at the best of times. When we feel depressed, anxious, stressed or have other mental or emotional problems, it can seem doubly difficult. This is especially true of depression and anxiety, which can leave you feeling trapped in a catch-22 situation. You know exercise will make you feel better, but depression has robbed you of the energy and motivation you need to work out, or your social anxiety means you can’t bear the thought of being seen at an exercise class or running through the park. So, what can you do? It’s okay to start small. In fact, it’s smart. When you’re under the cloud of an emotional disorder and haven’t exercised for a long time, setting extravagant goals like completing a marathon or working out for an hour everymorning will only leave you more despondent if you fall short. Better to set achievable goalsand build up from there. Schedule your workout at the time of day when your energy is highest That may be first thing in the morning before work or school, at lunchtime before the mid-afternoon lull hits, or for longer sessions over the weekend. If depression or anxiety has you feeling tired and unmotivated all day long, try dancing to some music or simply going for a walk. Even a short, 15-minute walk can help clear your mind, improve your mood, and boostyour energy level. As you move and start to feel a little better, you’ll experience a greatersense of control over your well-being. You may even feel energized enough to exercise morep | 8vigorously—by walking further, breaking into a run, or adding a bike ride, for example.
Other tips for staying motivated when you’re also struggling with mental health
•Focus on activities you enjoy. Any activity that gets you moving counts. That could include throwing a Frisbee with a dog or friend, walking laps of a mall window shopping, orcycling to the grocery store. If you’ve never exercised before or don’t know what you might enjoy, try a few different things. Activities such as gardening or tackling a home improvement project can be great ways to start moving more when you have a mooddisorder—as well as helping you become more active, they can also leave you with a senseof purpose and accomplishment.Be comfortable. Whatever time of day you decide to exercise, wear clothing that’s comfortable and choose a setting that you find calming or energizing. That may be a quie tcorner of your home, a scenic path, or your favorite city park.
•Reward yourself. Part of the reward of completing an activity is how much better you’llfeel afterwards, but it always helps your motivation to promise yourself an extra treat forexercising. Reward yourself with a hot bubble bath after a workout, a delicious smoothie, orwith an extra episode of your favorite TV show.
•Make exercise a social activity. Exercising with a friend or loved one, or even your kids, will not only make exercising more fun and enjoyable, it can also help motivate you to stickto a workout routine. You’ll also feel better than if you were exercising alone. In fact, whenyou’re suffering from a mood disorder such as depression, the companionship can be just asimportant as the exercise.Easy ways to move more that don’t involve a gym
Don’t have 30 minutes to dedicate to yoga or a bike ride? Don’t worry. Think about physical activity as a lifestyle rather than just a single task to check off. Look at your daily routine and consider ways to sneak in activity here, there, and everywhere.
•In and around your home.: Clean the house, wash the car, tend to the yard and garden, mow the lawn with a push mower, sweep the sidewalk or patio with a broom.
•At work and on the go.: Bike or walk to an appointment rather than drive, banish all elevators and get to know every staircase possible, briskly walk, park at the back of the lot and walk into the store or office, take a vigorous walk during your coffee break.
•With the family: Jog around the soccer field during your kid’s practice, make a neighborhood bike ride part of your weekend routine, play tag with your children in the yard, go canoeing at a lake, walk the dog in a new place.
•Just for fun: Pick fruit at an orchard, boogie to music, go to the beach or take a hike, gently stretch while watching television, organize an office bowling team, take a remote class in martial arts, dance, or yoga.
Make exercise a fun part of your everyday life You don’t have to force yourself into long, monotonous workouts to experience the many benefits of exercise.
Sources: Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A.
BENEFITS OF LUNGES
The lunge is a total lower body workout - it increases muscle tissue, shapes the lower body, gives more flexibility in the hips and also helps to strengthen the core.
There are different lunges one can do:
forward lunge, reverse lunge, side lunge, lunge bicep curl, lunge twist, crossover lunge.
Muscle Groups Used:
Gluteus maximus, adductors, rectus abdominis, abductors, gastrocenemius, soleus
To make this more of a challenge hold a dumbbell in each hand down by your sides.
If having balance issues, use the TRX straps or a pole/bar to hold on to while learning good form.
Step by Step Guide: (for lunge pictured above)
BENEFITS OF THE SQUAT EXERCISE
Squats are an excellent exercise for training the lower body and core muscles. Done regularly they help to define thighs and buttocks. You can do squats anywhere using your own body weight.
They can improve circulation, posture, digestion and are a low impact exercise that almost anybody can do.
Squats are primarily a lower body exercise and works out the following muscles; quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, hip adductors, hip abductors, gastrocnemius (calf), soleus, tibias anterior, rectus abdominals and erector spinae
STEP BY STEP GUIDE
If you are new to squats try not to squat too deeply at first until you are used to the movement as practice will bring more flexibility
If you are advanced try the squat with a dumbbell in each hand but keep them down by your side instead of lifting above the head.