The benefits of exercise are touted by many a medical doctor to enhance one’s overall physical health. But did you know that physical health and mental health are inextricably linked? It is absolutely true. But don’t just take my word for it. See for yourself.
I offer this example as proof positive that increasing your physical activity and fitness will also concurrently boost your mental health. I had worked at a particular job for over 2 years, and had, for the majority of that time, during my lunch break, gone out for fast food which included a large coke. I did this because getting out of the office was necessary for my mental health, and going through a drive-thru allowed me to not really have to think; just order. This diet did not help my physical health at all though, and I ended up gaining weight and not being happy with how I looked and felt. I knew I had to make a change, and knew what I had to do in order to do so, but seemed to lack the willpower it took to do it. That all changed when I decided to check my weight on the scale at work one day and the number read 169. That was the highest weight I had ever been, and was NOT a number I was comfortable with. I have never been a person who bought into the nonsense spewed by fashion magazines, and indeed I have always thought that such publications had it all wrong far as what true beauty was. None-the-less, I was not pleased with that number and on my 5’2 frame, it simply would not do. This was my wake up call to make some immediate changes.
In late May, I moved into a different department with my full-time job; and while it was still a job that was prone to stress, I at least had some relief in that I was not in the in-bound call center any longer, and had some breathing room in my daily duties. After making the switch to my new role, I began walking with a workmate during my lunch break. I would have lunch at my desk, and then take my lunch hour to walk a 2 mile stretch around the office park I work in. My doctor suggested that along with walking, to monitor my calorie intake as well, and aim for approximately 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day in order to lose weight.
With this additional of walking 2 miles per day and also monitoring my calorie intake for weight loss purposes, I started to see the results of my hard work. After 2 months, I had lost 9 pounds, and for the past 3 months, I have cut out sodas altogether, as well as being able to maintain at least some amount of daily walking for exercise, either during my lunch break, or after work. It is a regimen I plan to stick with for continued results. My goal, and the weight I feel most comfortable with is between 130-140 pounds. I shall reach it!
Even without the intent of losing weight, I noticed that when I walk, I feel much better mentally as well. Any stress I was dealing with during the workday, I am able, through the exercise of walking, to shake off much of the stress of the day that would otherwise be sitting in my physical body, causing upset: And who wants that?!
I feel clearer-headed after I walk and have noticed that when I don’t walk or get in some form of physical exercise, I tend to feel more stress than when I do. I am grateful for having come to this realization that physical exercise helps to greatly improve my mental health. I know it sounds perfectly obvious, but in the busy lives we lead, sometimes we need reminders like this. I hope this article finds you all well, and I look forward to hearing for you, how physical activity in your lives has affected your mental health.
*Anne Sabagh is a Certified Life Coach based in Northern Virginia. She sees clients in person at Goose Creek Consulting in Centreville, VA, as well as conducting coaching sessions via phone from anywhere. She specializes in working with people dealing with mental health concerns in order to help them develop their greatest mental wellness possible. She is a highly sensitive person and an empath. As such, Anne brings a great deal of empathy to her work with clients. She loves animals, music, and spending time with her family and friends. She lives in Northern Virginia with her wonderful husband Tony, and their beloved cat, Robin.