For many months now, plenty of people across the United States have been stuck at home — thanks to the pandemic.
Many Americans have started working from home. And of course, there has been plenty more time to put a proper dent in the couch and binge Netflix, too.
Sounds pretty cool, right?
Well, as it turns out, it’s might be having a negative effect on your mind and mood — and not for the exact reasons you might think.
All that extra time without regular physical activity is trashing your well-being.
So, if you’re more sedentary lately, these are the ways it might be affecting your brainpower — and why it’s so important for both mind and mood for you to get up and move.
Are You Struggling to Solve Problems?
Physical activity can actually improve our cognitive functions. Even low-impact exercise can improve your attention span, problem-solving skills, memory, and even your information-processing speed. Think of that walk around the block kind of like a RAM upgrade for your brain.
Of course, that means that a lack of physical activity can slow your brain down — leaving you struggling when trying to brainstorm solutions.
It’s More Difficult to Manage Stress
On a regular basis, many people are relatively okay with handling stress as it comes their way. I mean, think of all the ways you’ve dealt with anxiety over the years.
Sad to say, without regular physical activity, our brain releases cortisol — that pesky stress hormone. As you can probably guess, increased levels of cortisol can heighten our response to stress and make it tough to manage our emotions effectively.
Trouble Finding the Bright Side
Have you turned into a Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy lately?
If you’re constantly envisioning the worst-case scenario when you used to be able to find the silver lining, it might actually be due to physical inactivity.
Exercise often helps people take the edge off, so to speak. It provides an outlet for you — by literally letting you work out emotions through deep breathing and re-channeling emotions through movements.
By not getting up to move, you’re just letting all that negative energy stay bottled up inside, and it’s affecting your mood.
Self-Deprecating Thought Patterns
Physical exercise often leads to that after-workout euphoria: you feel strong and on top of the world, plus it’s pretty cool that you conquered that challenging workout, right?
On the other hand, a lack of exercise has an equally opposite effect. Being too sedentary can often leave you down in the dumps concerning self-esteem and image. All those negative thoughts can eventually become a never-ending cycle that can be hard to break.
Higher Risk of Depression and Anxiety
Of course, all of these things together should spell a pretty clear picture. A lack of physical activity can leave you feeling negative, super stressed, and even foggy. It should come as no surprise, then, that inactivity leaves you at a higher risk of depression and anxiety.
Exercise results in the body releasing feel-good chemicals that our brains need. When we don’t get enough physical activity, we’re operating on a deficiency in these important hormones. It leaves us feeling more anxious and depressed.
I have good news for fellow couch potatoes, though: you don’t have to go pump iron at the gym for hours on end — I mean, unless you really want to.
In actuality, all you need to do is get up and move. It can be as easy as going for a walk around the neighborhood, doing a quick yoga routine in the morning, or even break out the Nintendo Switch and check out interactive video games that require physical exertion to play.