By Dr. Mehri Moore, M.D.
We’d like to take a brief moment to discuss the at-times aggressive, counter-productive resolutions that so often accompany the New Year (“new year, new me”) which can cause feelings of anxiety and depression.
Instead of feeling pressure to hit the gym, we here at THIRA Health encourage you to focus on holistic self-care in your quest to get healthy ––and considering that 80 percent of Americans with a gym membership don’t use it––the importance of a balanced and sustainable approach to fitness becomes more clear.
Here are some simple ideas for promoting a new year of personal wellness:
Benefits of Outdoor Exercise
Fresh air has been shown to improve blood pressure, heart rate, and strengthen the immune and digestive systems. A balanced exercise routine should include outdoor recreation, as fresh air helps the lungs dilate and purge toxins with greater efficiency. Additionally, outdoor exercise has been shown to reduce obesity at a greater rate, and offers an opportunity for healthy bonding with friends or family.
Stretching To Relieve Stress
Cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, is released into the body by the adrenal glands to maintain fluid balance and blood pressure during a perceived crisis. When in “survival mode” the optimal amounts of cortisol can be life saving—but when you’re obsessing over a problem at work—the body may continuously releases cortisol as if it’s in real danger. This response can lead to serious issues. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure/sugar, decrease libido, produce acne, and contribute to obesity.
In a previous blog post, The Value of Yoga as Part of a Mental Health Treatment, we discussed how yoga can boost overall well-being and reduce depressive symptoms. As a rule, stretching of all kinds can help keep stress at bay, especially when you take the time to breathe deeply and stretch yourself out on the floor. This process can significantly slow the chatter in your brain and reduce the levels of stress you may be feeling (while promoting healthy muscular development and flexibility.)
The Power of Group Fitness
Planning a physical activity with friends, family, or colleagues can benefit you in more ways than one. Psychology of Sport and Exercise has suggested that by participating in a group exercise, humans regularly challenge their perceived limitations, and exert themselves to a greater extent. In short, you’re more likely to improve your physical fitness and personal goals when you feel solidarity with others in doing so.
At THIRA, much of what we do is guided by our commitment to holistic healing. When treating serious conditions like anxiety and depression, we’ve found that sustainable recoveries are possible through fostering self-care, and a healthy balance of expectations for one’s goals and relationships with others.
This is why our programs (which are based on decades of work with women and girls) are designed to offer a truly transformative, sustainable recovery and promote an active lifestyle through components like yoga, art therapy, and the great outdoors.