Module 21: Optimal Movement
With all of the resources modern society offers us to stay physically fit, on average we are less active and fit than our parents and grandparents.
Fundamentally, our relationship with movement has changed. The CDC recommends getting 150 minutes of activity per week for a healthy lifestyle, the majority of people don’t get close.
Transforming your relationship with movement starts with a question. What do you like to do? Dancing, swimming, walking in nature? We need to find forms of activity that we enjoy in order for it to be sustainable.
Closed skilled activities – like running or weightlifting – are good but for the brain open skilled activities like team sports are great! They seem to do more for our mental health perhaps because they do a better job increasing BDNF.
What about fun? What about movement when you don’t break a sweat? Or how about movement habits that are enjoyable, in nature, that are rewarding and even social? Now we are talking about the kinds of activities that we know help heal the modern brain!
Movement is central to healing. It is one of the most effective treatment recommendations I have as a physician and psychiatrist, and movement has been key in my own journey, whether it was school athletics or today being active in nature with my kids, nothing boosts my mood or calms my worries like movement.
In fact, the HUNT Study included over 33,000 individuals and concluded that 12 percent of depression could be prevented with one hour of exercise per week and that not exercising increased the risk of depression by 44 percent.
Our modern brains crave movement, it leads to greater life satisfaction, improved mental clarity and overall better mental fitness.
Changing our relationship with movement takes time – but also needs to start today and continue each day for optimal mental fitness. I know the efforts you make for movement that is fun, social, and intentional will pay huge mental health dividends. Please see the resources section for some more recommendations on incorporating more movement in your life.