Integrative Exercise For Emotional Wellness
Exercise – preferably daily exercise – is vital to emotional wellness. In this video, Dr. Weil discusses how physical exercise can be a treatment for depression, as well as a way to prevent it.
He includes specific mention of certain exercises he calls integrative exercises, which offer a variety of emotional wellness benefits:
- Walking. One of Dr. Weil’s favorite integrative exercises, walking promotes bone density, boosts the immune system, is heart healthy, and can strengthen almost every major organ in the body. Do it with a buddy for additional socializing, and keep a brisk pace for most benefit.
- Climbing stairs. Walking up and down stairs is not only convenient (and free), it can burn more calories than cycling or running when done for the same amount of time and at a moderate pace; it is good for your heart; and it is low impact.
- Doing housework. Studies have shown that the amount of time spent on housework since the 1960’s has been cut almost in half – while the time watching TV has almost doubled. Since housework can be a productive way to burn calories and stay in shape (not to mention the added mental health benefits of clearing out clutter), try to get more of this aerobic exercise into your life by taking one evening a week to tune off the TV and instead focus on cleaning!
- Working in the garden. Gardening and yard work offer mental health benefits – they help you connect with nature, can improve your mood, and offer a sense of accomplishment. But don’t overlook the physical benefits as well: yard work and gardening can mean digging, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling and more – all aerobic exercises that can help to lift your mood!
Watch the video on Integrative Exercise For Emotional Wellness below, to learn more about how Dr. Weil views exercise, ones he has practiced throughout his life, and more!
In terms of physical strategies for optimizing emotional wellness, the two interventions for which we have the best evidence by far are exercise and supplemental fish oil. The evidence for the positive effects of exercise are overwhelming, both as a treatment for depression and as a preventive. You know, exercise has been very important in my own life, the forms that I have used have changed throughout my life. In my late twenties early thirties, I ran; later I got into biking as a main form of exercise; more recently swimming has been my preferred method. So I have changed what I do and I think there really aren’t rules here, the important thing is to be active. You want to try to be active every day. A sedentary lifestyle really predisposes to emotional trouble.
And exercise doesn’t have to mean workouts in a gym, it doesn’t have to mean calisthenics, it doesn’t have to mean boring routines, it can be activities of daily living: walking, carrying things, going uphill, climbing stairs, doing housework, working in the yard and garden. This is all what I call integrative exercise, and there is some evidence that it is more beneficial than the more formal kinds of workouts that people do.