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PodcastMovement and Mental Health

Movement and Mental Health

Washington Post Health and Wellness Columnist Gretchen Reynolds hosts Radio Headspace all week. Today, she shares a few ways that mindful movement can help us feel more at ease. Learn more about Gretchen's work on washingtonpost.com.

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Better mental health starts with Headspace

(gas hisses) (button clicks) (ethereal music) Head Space Studio. (mellow music) Hey everyone. I'm Gretchen Reynolds, your guest host for the week. Welcome to "Radio Headspace," and to Wednesday. As you know, I'm a journalist and exercise science and fitness columnist for "The Washington Post." This week, we're talking about the science of fitness and how adding some movement into our daily lives can improve our wellbeing. So today we're gonna talk about how movement can play a role in boosting our mood and help us work with anxiety and depression. And I'll even share some insight on how to get moving when difficult feelings put a damper on your motivation. (gentle music) So what does the research say about the link between regular exercise and mental health? It says that the link is very strong. Just getting up and moving has a really significant effect on how likely you are to develop mental health issues and that includes depression, anxiety, stress, and also it can be a way to help treat those conditions if you've already developed them. For example, I've had many friends who have had mental health challenges, like almost all of us, and that was especially true during the pandemic. Almost everyone, even people who had very good mental health beforehand found the pandemic really difficult to cope with. If they, or if I, could get out on the trails, get out on the sidewalks, go for a walk, go for a jog, go for a bike ride, that allowed almost all of us to cope better, to feel back in control of some part of our lives when so much else was out of our control. One interesting thing to bear in mind about exercise is that it is stress. It is a form of physical stress. And when you do it often it helps prime the body to deal with stress. And so if you become able to handle the stress of exercise physiologically and psychologically, your body also becomes better able to handle emotional stress. (gentle music continues) So what is the best kind of exercise if you want to improve your mental health and mood? Well, the science says: absolutely any is the best exercise to do that. There have been studies showing that walking improves mood, but both immediately and long term, running tends to have quite a significant effect on people's mental health and particularly helping combat depression. There's been some very good studies showing that weight training can reduce anxiety, in particular, even more than other types of exercise. And that may be in part because weight training is often new for a lot of people and they discover they can do it. They develop what scientists call self-efficacy. The sense that you are competent, that your body can handle things that you didn't think it can handle and that can have a really terrific effect on mental health. So whatever you enjoy, whatever you will stick with is almost...


Duration6 min

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