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Fitness: Feel Good with Exercise

Why do you exercise? Losing weight, building strong muscles, and keeping a strong heart are common reasons to work out. But, the next time you're experiencing the "blues", a visit to the fitness center might be the best medicine.

Exercise – even a small amount of physical activity each day – can positively impact your mood and overall mental health.

People who work out report they experience less stress, sleep better and find everyday tasks to be easier. Several studies show that individuals with depression feel better when exercise is incorporated into their treatment.

One reason is that exercise triggers the release of endorphins – small protein molecules produced by cells in your nervous system and other parts of your body. Endorphins work to relieve pain and release chemicals that actually energize a person. In fact, endorphins give athletes a "second wind." Instead of feeling worn out during a long race, a runner will feel energized toward the end, thanks to endorphins.

Exercise clears your mind and offers a diversion from negative thoughts. It can also be quite fulfilling, especially when you complete a workout or achieve a fitness goal, points out Lekshmi Venugopal, MD, a psychiatrist with Linden Oaks Medical Group.

There's even more good news: 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise is all it takes to reap the benefits of exercise, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. That's just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, and the 150 minutes can be met in multiple sessions such as 10 minutes, three times a day.

"Exercise doesn't have to take hours. Little things that you incorporate into your daily life will help you feel better. Once you get into a habit of exercising, it gets easier to do," says Dr. Venugopal.

Any time is a great time to set new fitness – and mental health goals. Try adding one of these tips into your schedule this week:

• Park further away from your office so you have to walk a longer distance.

• Challenge yourself to a stair climb at home while watching TV.

• Go for a brisk walk during in the middle of the day.

• Try a new fitness class at Edward Health & Fitness Center (EHFC), such as Zumba.

• Check out one of the Pilates or yoga classes at EHFC.

• Consider personal training sessions.

• Sign up for a free fitness consultation at the fitness desk of either EHFC location (Naperville or Woodridge).

For a list of classes and more information about personal training, visit www.edward.org/fitness.


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