The Emotional Benefits of
Being Physically Active this Summer
Physical activity is good for our muscles, bones, heart and lungs. It can improve our energy, strength, and endurance, and protect our long-term physical health. Physical activity can have great benefits for emotional health as well.
Have you ever taken a walk to cool off when you’re feeling angry, or to calm your nerves when you’re feeling anxious? Physical activity serves as a useful distraction as it is hard to continue thinking intensely about something frustrating or worrisome while trying to run an extra mile, or send a ball in the right direction. Also, when we are physically active endorphins are released throughout our bodies, which can offer immediate relief from pain and anxiety.
Here are a few ideas for how to get physically active this summer as a family:
1 Walk through the neighborhood
Taking a walk somewhere your family enjoys (like your own neighborhood) can be a great way to get active and reflect on the day.
2 Frozen T-shirt race.
On a warm day, soak & freeze t-shirts and see who can put one on the fastest. This fast paced activity will get heart rates high and will definitely encourage laughter.
3 Dance party.
Put on the music and dance to your family’s favorite songs. The crazier and more active the dance moves the better. Don’t be shy and have your child show you some of their favorite new dance moves.
4 Backyard obstacle course.
Three legged races, sprints through cones, somersaults, and other activities can come together to make an exciting obstacle course. Time family members and have some friendly competition to see who can complete the course the fastest.
5 Glow in the dark backyard bowling.
You can still get physically active after it gets dark out. Put glowsticks in old water bottles and play your own version of backyard bowling.
6 Outdoor I-Spy.
Whether it is on a road trip or a walk around a park, have members of your family search for different things such as flowers, a house with a red door, or birds sitting on a wire. This will help your child to practice being present and mindful of the world around them.
If you have the opportunity, going to a new place and being immersed in nature can be a wonderful physical activity. Setting a goal prior to hiking (distance or time) can help to motivate your family and can provide a sense of accomplishment once it is reached.
Note from Mightier Clinicians
The benefits of physical activity go far beyond immediate or physical gains. Studies show that regular exercise helps people fall asleep faster and get more restorative deep sleep. Getting regular sleep protects our emotional health, in part by raising our emotional reactivity thresholds. Regular exercise also promotes mood stability. Research studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to be depressed and anxious than people who do not exercise. This may be in part because regular exercise enhances emotional processing.