Monday, November 30, 2009

Take a Short Walk to HAPPINESS!

As if you didn't need another reason to get off your butt and work out...

Well, this reason "weighs" a lot heavier than body image or the monstrous amount of gravy you loaded on this week (yes, leftovers count). Your attitude is the first thing that changes when you exercise. This time of year can be difficult for many of us. You've heard of "Seasonal Affective Disorder" or "SAD," well, it's not to be taken lightly. We need to take care of our mental-emotional health especially during these months of stress, nasty weather, holidays, illnesses, etc. The first way to do this is to MOVE.

The task is not terribly difficult. I know as well as anyone else, it's not that easy to get up and work out every day. HOWEVER, you CAN move consciously. No excuse for the matter. Even if it is deep belly breaths and stretching when you wake up, you are on the right path. There is no question that exercise is beneficial to our mood. It raises endorphins - a powerful neurotransmitter (chemical messengers that relay nervous impulses) also increased in pain, excitement and orgasm. They work similarly to opiates, causing a heightened sense of well-being and analgesia.

The brain's limbic system is responsible for a number of the body's functions including our emotions. When a person uses bilateral, opposing movements (cross-crawl) of the arms and legs, the information stored in the amygdala is processed to the cortex more efficiently. This information can include whatever drama you've got on your plate, be it feelings of love, anger, sexual behavior, hunger, etc. It is important to process emotions and stress as they can lead to chronic dis-ease of the body, decrease immunity and continue to make you feel subconciously ill.

So if you are having issues with processing things up in the noggin- walk, run, ellipticalize. Whatever you choose, make sure your arms and legs are swinging in opposite directions. So you know, right arm forward and left leg forward; left arm forward and right leg forward... It is important you do not have anything in your hands, just let them be free. Try to do this every day for at least 20 minutes. Your dog will thank you too...

Other things you can do for a little uplift:
VITAMIN D- especially this time of year, our bodies make this from the sun, and well, the days are getting shorter. It is important for immunity, bone health, AND mood.

SLEEP- at least 8 hours. Support your body's natural rhythms by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Our hormones are on a tight schedule, too, and it's called the circadian clock. They peak and dip throughout the day and night so if you have a chaotic sleep schedule, fix it!

DREAM- another reason to get more sleep. When we dream we are in the REM stage of sleep. This stage is incredibly important for processing emotions and stress. So again, hit the snooze button a few more times. The boss will understand, I mean, it's for your health and all.

Omega-3 fatty acids- fish oil or ground flax seeds- every day.

WATER- drink half your weight in ounces every day

Eat chocolate. Stop being hard on yourself and enjoy simple pleasures every day. Those 100 calories do not make a big difference. Besides, you'll be walking it off! MODERATION people. This goes for everything in life.


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