The Impact of Physical Activity

April is National Move More Month!

National Move More Month is every April and the objective of this month is clear and simple: get up and move! Created by the American Heart Association as a way to help improve the health of Americans everywhere, National Move More Month is aimed at getting more of us to hit 10,000 steps everyday or, even better, to hit that 20-minutes of aerobic exercise mark everyday. 

Why is This “A Movement?”

Physical activity is important for many, many reasons. An active lifestyle lessens the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improves bone health and muscle tone, increases brain function, and reduces depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma related disorders. That’s quite an impact!

Not only is physical health important to all of us, but these days we are beginning to recognize the importance of mental health and how physical activity can play a role in that. For years, mental health difficulties were brushed aside, under-estimated and under-valued, and even stigmatized. Now that research is bringing to light how MANY Americans suffer from anxiety, depression, and other crippling mood disorders, more research is being conducted on remedies for these diseases. And, exercise seems to create one of the strongest cases – move your body, and then move your brain!

Physical movement stimulates brain waves and creates more neural pathways to sharpen our brain functioning, but also to “cleanse” the brain, in a way. We often become stuck in the rut of negative thinking and habits, particularly when it comes to mental illness. So, breaking that pattern and routine by changing the format of our lifestyle creates a bit of a stop-gap and reprieve from detrimental thinking and actions. We become distracted and disconnected from our stress, but also more mindful in everyday life.

Exercise also has the capacity, when NOT overdone, to improve sleep quality as well. Which, in turn, also contributes to positive mental health and physical health. It’s all kind magical – the synergy of our bodies and our habits!

How Much?

Just as with anything in life, moderation is key. Not too little and not too much. Goldilocks had it just right. Walking 10,000 steps or 20 minutes of physical activity each day (spaced out is fine), just enough to get us glistening and a little warm (not sweaty and not hot) is the “just right” amount. Any activity is great, for sure, but less than that is not quite as beneficial and too much exercise can be further detrimental the body and the mind!

The bottom line: move more this month! Your body and your mind will thank you.

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