Renew Your Mind-Muscle Connection With Movement

By Emma Haggerty

reviewed by Amadou Barrow

Movement is an important part of our daily lives as human beings. It’s not only important for health; it’s also an essential part of life. There are numerous benefits to movement, whether you choose to do so through fun activities, exercise, or work. When we’re active, we’re taking care of our holistic health — it’s that easy!

But how does movement benefit different aspects of our health? Physical activity is linked to a better state of mental health, daily functioning, better sleep, reduced risk of disease, a greater chance of longevity, and improved overall wellbeing. 

 

Does movement reduce the risk of chronic diseases?

According to a study on the benefits of physical activity, regular movement can reduce your chances of developing many chronic diseases:

  • Cardiovascular disease: Being active is associated with a more than 50% reduced risk of all-cause or cardiovascular-related death. The more physically fit you are, the more likely you’ll live a long, healthy life. And while the most overall health benefits are seen in those who are least physically fit but take up regular exercise, evidence shows it’s best to start moving while you’re young. 
  • Diabetes: Being active can improve and level out glucose levels, which can help prevent type 2 diabetes, assist in the management of diabetes, as well as improve chances of longevity. Aerobic and resistance exercises have both been shown to be beneficial. 
  • Cancer: Regular movement is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers. Research has demonstrated that there may be up to a 40% reduction in colon cancer incidences and 30% in breast cancer occurrences in physically active individuals.
  • Osteoporosis: To prevent osteoporosis, the best exercises you can do are weight-bearing, like resistance training. Both high-impact sports and resistance exercises can increase bone mineral density, which can protect you from breaks and fractures as you get older.
  • Hypertension: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Exercise can help to control or lower blood pressure, studies show.
  • Obesity: Being obese can put you at risk for chronic diseases, but movement can quickly improve your condition and positively impact body composition. 
  • Depression: One study suggests that exercise is so wonderful for our health that it should be prescribed as a drug, or at least as a treatment for multiple diseases. It can diminish symptoms of depression and alleviate anxiety. 
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: Along with a healthy diet and active learning, movement can lower your chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

 

If you’ve had your blood taken for a wellness exam, then you’re already familiar with the overall health markers that your general doctor will monitor during your yearly check-up. It is many of these markers, such as cholesterol and glucose, as well as blood pressure, cardiac function, and overall body composition, that all can improve with the help of movement. And if you’re looking to improve your sleep, movement is a perfect way to get started — there’s truly nothing better than a busy day to tire you out!

Can movement improve our mind-body connection?

Here at SolaVieve, we often say that the mind-body connection is powerful. This holds true when it comes to movement as well — being a physically fit person will also make you more creative as well as happier overall, and vice versa. Want to know exactly how? 

You know that energy rush you get when you do something you love? We all enjoy the feeling of being enthused and fully present, and physical activity is directly linked to this state of being. That’s right — movement makes us happier and more positive. This positive mental state goes hand-in-hand with increased levels of creativity, meaning working out can clear your mental block!

Habitual movement is also linked to reduced incidence of depression, anxiety, and stress, all of which can negatively impact our holistic wellbeing. And achieving a better state of mental health is critical to preventing cardiovascular disease as well as other chronic diseases. When you work out, you build healthier habits for your mind and your body. 

 

How can you modify your life to move more?

So how can you get started on a life filled with movement? First, know that even a little movement can reap benefits for your health. As little as thirty to sixty minutes a day, five days a week, or the equivalent of 1000 calories (4200kJ) each week is within the generally recommended guidelines for a healthy adult from the ages of 18-64. Fill those minutes with your favorite activities and exercises and you may not even notice that time is flying by. 

Do try to incorporate moderate to high intensity activities in your exercise routine, but don’t push yourself beyond your limits. With time, you’ll be able to build on your level of physical fitness. It’s also recommended that you work your muscles at least twice a week to maintain a healthy, strong body. Encourage your family and friends to move with you — it’s proven that the more you move at an early age, the better off you’ll be down the road.

Consider taking up an activity you love — like hiking local trails, attending yoga or pilates classes, playing basketball outside, swimming in the ocean, or walking around your neighborhood — and commit to a regular schedule. Set aside time on your calendar or make weekly plans with friends to move together. Making time for movement might seem difficult at first if you’re not used to it, but rest assured that your body will benefit and your mind will thank you later.

Emma Haggerty

Emma is an experienced content writer with a passion for reading, writing, and traveling. With a B.A. in English and anthropology and a certificate in creative writing, she has also worked as a certified English teacher and marketing assistant, and now aims to bring her various traveling experiences and passion for healthy and mindful living to her writing and editing at SolaVieve.

Amadou Barrow

Amadou is a public/global health researcher and a digital health researcher and analyst at SolaVieve Technologies. He received a BSc in public health with honors from the University of The Gambia and a master’s degree in reproductive & family health from the University of Benin, Nigeria. He is also completing a master’s degree in international health at Heidelberg University, Germany. He is a passionate digital health enthusiast with a special focus on holistic health and wellbeing at individual and population levels.

Daniels, L. (2021, January 25). What are the mental and physical health benefits of exercise? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/benefits-of-exercise

Piercy, K. L., Troiano, R. P., Ballard, R. M., Carlson, S. A., Fulton, J. E., Galuska, D. A., George, S. M., & Olson, R. D. (2018). The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. JAMA, 320(19), 2020–2028. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.14854

Pillay, S. (2020, June 24). How simply moving benefits your mental health. Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-simply-moving-benefits-your-mental-health-201603289350

Rominger, C., Fink, A., Weber, B., Papousek, I., & Schwerdtfeger, A.R. (2020). Everyday bodily movement is associated with creativity independently from active positive affect: a Bayesian mediation analysis approach. Scientific Reports, 10. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-68632-9

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: 2nd edition. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf

Vina, J., Sanchis-Gomar, F., Martinez-Bello, V., & Gomez-Cabrera, M. C. (2012). Exercise acts as a drug; the pharmacological benefits of exercise. British journal of pharmacology, 167(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01970.x

Warburton, D. E., Nicol, C. W., & Bredin, S. S. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 174(6), 801–809. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.051351

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