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Running is great for not only physical health but mental health.

Therapist Nicole Goldberg Views Exercise as an Essential Part of our Day

And, with time, I found that running was a magical remedy for my mind. It became my time in the day to focus on me. It was my safe haven where I could leave all my worries at the door, ignore my phone, and solely focus on each step I took.

"As I’ve grown up, my plate has been filled with a vast amount of opportunities, responsibilities, and social commitments. While many of these additions have been positive, it can feel challenging to balance it all. At times, the to-do list feels too long and impossible to tackle. I find myself wondering how I’ll get it all done. And in that time of rumination, rather than accomplishing more tasks, I find myself worrying more, wasting more time, and the list continues to grow.

 

As worries and stress increase, so do our stress hormones, some known as cortisol and adrenaline. The increase in stress can feel defeating and can cause us to fall down a negative thought spiral. However, if we take a step back and find time to prioritize our mental and physical health, the to-do list might actually feel more accomplish-able. 

 

Exercise is not only needed for our physical health, but is also a necessity for our mental health. At times, exercise will be more work than fun, but as we slowly confront our discomfort, we can learn to enjoy exercise. And as our bodies begin to feel stronger, so will our minds.

 

Exercising has a unique capacity to excite and calm our nervous systems. Various studies have been conducted that provide evidence for the effectiveness of aerobic exercise on enhancing mental health symptoms. There’s a reason why people enjoyed long walks during the stay at home order during the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. During lockdown, individuals sought out movement to promote their physical health, while simultaneously benefitted from healing their mind. These COVID hobbies served greater purpose than just something to do in our long and empty days, but symbolized society’s need for exercising our mental and physical health.

 

Similar to the long walkers, my mental health has benefited from movement. During the pandemic, I found myself feeling overwhelmed with the world around me, contemplating my upcoming life changes, and felt cooped up for too long.

 

This is when I turned to running. At first, it was an activity that was supposed to be good for my physical health; it was something to safely get me out of the house. And, with time, I found that running was a magical remedy for my mind. It became my time in the day to focus on me. It was my safe haven where I could leave all my worries at the door, ignore my phone, and solely focus on each step I took. It allowed me to be present with my thoughts and focus on the here and now. Don’t get me wrong, the first time I threw on my running shoes, I felt scared. But with time, running became fun and something I craved in my day. With practice, I noticed that the inclusion of exercise in my weekly routine significantly impacted my mental health.

 

Suddenly, things felt clearer and the to-do list felt more manageable.

 

For many people, exercise is viewed as a bonus to their day. It is something that is celebrated if completed. Rather than viewing exercise as a plus, it should be treated as an essential part of our daily routine, like brushing our teeth. Exercise and regular movement have significant impacts on physical and mental health. By incorporating mindful physical activity in your lifestyle, your body and mind will strengthen.

 

Exercise is imperative to my lifestyle as a therapist. Much like other jobs, I spend my day stationary. Working out at the end of the long day is not only good for my body, but gives me the mental reset I need to be able to be the best therapist I can be."

 

Nicole Goldberg is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist in LA.

 

 

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