VP Trish: The Importance of Exercise

April 8, 2020

“Whereas, a sound mind in a sound body is the foundation of the Polish Falcons of America…” This is the beginning of our purpose as stated in our Constitution.

Years ago when I was in college, I had to write a report on whatever I wanted, so I chose the importance of exercise. The title of the report is “Exercise Your Mind.” While the report is dated, most of the information is still accurate today.

Psychologists have said for quite some time that exercise should top the list of things to do to take care of yourself. Research overwhelmingly points out the correlation between the physical and mental benefits of physical activity. Regular exercise improves physical problems such as high cholesterol, diabetes, lowers blood pressure, improves metabolism, aids in weight loss, weight management, decreases the risk of various cancers, as well as a laundry list of other ailments; it also has definite mood and cognitive advantages as well. The ability to boost higher-level thinking and combat depression and anxiety is a result of physical activity. Exercise also assists in the maintenance of bone density and improves the immune system.

Patients who had been suffering from depression were randomly selected to participate in an exercise program. These patients had declines in depression equal to those of a group that received antidepressants. It was found that the exercisers were less likely than the medication group to relapse within six months of treatment. The patients who chose not to maintain an exercise program during the follow-up period were 50 percent more likely to become depressed.

James Blumenthal, PhD, says “This is a terribly important finding because in addition to the well-known physical benefits of regular exercise, our results suggest that exercise may be a very effective way of preventing depression in susceptible people.”

Dr. Blumenthal and his colleagues at Duke University have conducted many systematic studies of patients who had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder using the two treatment conditions of exercise and medication. They have compared patients’ response to aerobic exercise only, psychotropic medication only (Zoloft), or a combination of the two. Four months later, patients receiving any of these treatments were considerably less depressed.

Approximately two thirds of the patients were not depressed. Six months after the original study, these patients were contacted by another psychologist, Michael Babyak, PhD, and his colleagues. Their findings revealed that the patients in the exercise group were more likely to be partially or fully recovered than those in either the medication group or the medication and exercise group.

Motivation is difficult especially for those who need exercise. It takes energy, which is something people feel they don’t have. Exercise burns off stress hormones and raises the endorphin levels, which are the happiness hormones, in just a few minutes of mild exercise. This makes people feel better, upbeat and able to see things in a more positive light.

Endorphins are the body’s natural pain medication hormones. When they’re released, endorphins make us feel better by increasing our pleasure, improving our mood and minimizing our pain, both emotionally and physically. Depressed individuals often feel tired, have low energy levels, are irritable, and have problems sleeping. This situation is self-defeating since the depressed person is one who needs to move and simply can’t get moving.

So, how to break this cycle? First of all, an individual must have the desire to become healthy. The empowerment that is felt as a result of exercising physically and mentally is amazing! It awakens the potential for growth and progress. Many observations on people in awful situations were seen. Once these folks worked out on a regular basis, achieving the natural “high,” they were able to look upon their situation and find solutions not thought possible prior. A person participating in a daily regimen of exercise awakens the senses for greater pleasure in life. Long term exercisers reported after working out- an overall sense of well-being, an increase in energy and feelings of alertness and well-restedness. These were greater incentives to stay fit than managing their weight or maintaining their appearance. The main reason folks exercise is to feel good.

Mental and physical health cannot be divided; the mind, body and soul work together. They are but one entity; and will work together more efficiently with exercise. Your mind and body communicate with each other and constantly affect each other. Our health is a rich fabric spun from physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. If one becomes frayed, the entire fabric may be weakened.

  • Exercise is a beneficial antidepressant both immediately and over the long term.
  • Although exercise decreases depression in all age groups, the older the people were, the greater the decrease in depression with exercise.
  • Exercise is an equally effective antidepressant for both males and females.
  • Walking and jogging are the most frequent forms of exercise that have been researched but all modes of exercise examined, anaerobic as well as aerobic were effective in lessening depression. The Greek physician Hippocrates deemed walking to be “man’s best medicine.”

Studies indicate that exercise is so very important in the treatment of various anxieties, issues of self-esteem and addictions. There is not one particular form of exercise. See what works for you! Weightlifting, yoga, walking, running, swimming, whatever!

Exercise itself has a positive impact on your frame of mind; dedicating time to yourself does wonders! Remember when you are on a plane and the oxygen drops, you must put the mask on yourself first. Then, you will be able to help others. Taking care of you is the same thing.

This gorgeous time of year is perfect to go for a walk. Fresh air, flowers, birds, green grass, no need for a heavy coat are just a few reasons to go outside for a walk. In doing so, you will be preventing depression, heart disease, numerous cancers, all the while clearing your brain and becoming more productive.

While this situation we find ourselves in at this time is not ideal, there are advantages. For me, I don’t have my long commute (am sure many of you are in the same boat!). Use that time for you!

If you are not inclined to go for a walk or exercise, give it a 10 minute try. Never has someone exercised and been sorry!

Hoping all are keeping safe and healthy!


Please note: This post was created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

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