By Dr. Supriya Venigalla
Until the last hundred years or so, behavioral science has been largely overlooked. Traditional healthcare has been physical care until the last century, when technology and research enabled us to discover the strong link between physical and mental health.
Thanks to widespread initiatives like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020, improving mental health is now a national priority, and Walk Georgia wants to ensure it’s a personal priority.
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to stay mentally fit is through regular exercise. Frequency is more important than duration or intensity, so even if you aren’t physically fit, research suggests that you can begin to experience mood-boosting benefits with simple, moderate-intensity activities like regular walks, bicycle rides, or gardening.
Studies on the relationship between exercise and mental health reveal they are closely linked. Moderate physical activity directly elevates your β-endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine hormones. These hormones not only make you feel good, but they also help manage pain, regulate mood and even social behavior. Adversely, a decrease in any of these can cause clinical depression.
In 2004, Dr. James J. Annesi, Director of Wellness Advancement at the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, conducted a 10-week study that compared the mood changes in previously sedentary women of various ages. After a simple, moderate exercise program, significant improvements were reported, unrelated to age.
Despite your age, you can prioritize your mental health and choose to lead a sedentary life, or an active one. Your hormones will thank you when you start to “Move More, Live More”. Walk Georgia is here to help you on your journey!