Physical activity is good for our muscles, bones, heart and lungs. It can improve our energy, strength, and endurance. And it protects our long-term physical health. But that’s not all. The mind-body connection ensures that keeping physically active has emotional benefits too.


Have you ever taken a walk to cool off when you’re feeling angry, or to calm your nerves when you’re feeling anxious? That often helps, for a couple reasons. It’s a useful distraction from whatever’s bothering us. It’s hard to continue thinking intensely about something frustrating or worrisome when we’re also trying to go 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. 


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 thresholdsRegular 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. 


Do it together!


One way to promote health and wellness for your entire family is to enjoy physical activities together. And here in New England, the weather is starting to make outdoor activities a more enticing option.


Are you having trouble getting started? Experts emphasize the importance of starting slowly and finding a routine that is compatible with your schedule. How about a family walk after dinner tonight, or one of the activities below? It could be the first step towards a lifetime of emotional benefits.


Family Outdoor Fun


Walks through the neighborhood Dance party Backyard obstacle course Hiking Frisbee in the park
Flashlight tag Glow in the dark backyard bowling Neighborhood scavenger hunt Frozen T-shirt Race (soak & freeze t-shirts and see who can put one on the fastest) Outdoor pictionary


What is the most fun or surprising activity that has helped to get your family moving?