Philosophy on Exercise
I am a big believer in exercise as a key to successful stress management. I realized this personally while in college, finding that the days I prioritized movement were the days I was more productive and felt happier. In fact, multiple studies show that 20-30 minutes of gentle exercise per day is as effective as taking medication for mood disorders like anxiety and depression. In my life, exercise gets a priority time slot almost every single day.
Exercise doesn’t have to happen all at the same time, so if you find yourself with 5 minutes to take the stairs before work or 10 minutes to take a walk after lunch it all adds up. Your goal is about 150 minutes per week of gentle aerobic exercise. Sometimes, all I have time for is a 12-minute walk before work, so I make up the time on other days when I have more flexibility.
I emphasize that gentle exercise is the way to go. I find that some of my patients exercise too intensely, fueling hormonal imbalance, sparking appetite and actually increasing stress hormones like cortisol. Your goal with exercise is at a level of 6-7 out of 10 on the exertion scale. If you feel like someone should mop you up off the floor after completing your high-intensity interval training, then maybe you’re working out too hard.
It’s also important to work on balance and strength, especially if you’re a woman who is at risk for osteoporosis. While weak bones can inherently cause a fall, most osteoporotic fractures happen because people are not as strong or stable as they could be and find themselves in unsafe conditions like slippery showers or icy garage floors. Do yourself a huge favor and start your muscle building as soon as possible.
Lean body maintenance and balance is also the way that we stay independent as we age. When I’m in the back of my favorite workout class doing squats, I’m not thinking about how great my butt is going to look in my swimsuit this summer. I’m thinking about how, when I’m 90 years old, I’m still going to be able to squat on my own toilet. I’m not kidding!