Movement heals your brain and lets you be more energized and present in your life.
Think of this: exercise is a well-researched method of reducing stress, lowering inflammation, boosting energy, and preventing diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer. It’s known to undo the damage done to our body and brain because of childhood trauma!
Remember the startling statistic we presented earlier, that the brain’s hippocampus can be up to 7% smaller and atrophied in individuals who have experienced ACEs? Well, exercise can regrow it! If you’re not motivated to prioritize movement yet, watch this eye-opening TED talk in which neuroscientist and author Wendy Suzuki presents her research on the incredible benefits of exercise on the brain’s anatomy, physiology and function.
We’ve done it a million times: made New Year’s resolutions to exercise more. And when we don’t achieve this, we beat ourselves up. But remember, putting our oxygen mask on first means prioritizing movement: making room for it in gentle, consistent ways. Start where you are. Even small amounts of exercise in our daily lives can improve our quality of life and our relationships with our children. Walking the dog (or a friend’s dog!), skipping a subway stop on the way to work, or using stairs instead of the elevator are some simple ways to move more. Like with rest, we want to try to build exercise into our lives, to prioritize it. Find a friend to walk with — an exercise buddy can help us to stay motivated. Apps like MyFitnessPal or BetterMe can help us connect with a wide range of people who enjoy exercise. Exercise is hard when we don’t feel well, so see if we can find movement that brings us JOY: dance to our favorite music (who doesn’t like a spontaneous dance party?), or find community exercise and dance classes like Zumba, salsa, or jazz. Consider taking a stroll in a nearby park or forest. Studies show that exercising in nature can improve our senses and calm our overactive brain. Choose an activity that makes you happy!
There’s a triple benefit if we can include our kids in our exercise. We can go hiking together, toss a baseball or frisbee, or help them climb a tree! We can let them bike (or bike with them) to school. Starting in small ways can provide the whole family with the exercise we need. Especially our school age kids, who might have little recess or outdoor play time.
Remember, tiny steps toward healing are all it takes to get going. We know you can do it!