3 Ways to Give Your Body-Mind The Exercise it Needs

Hello, I am Dr Stacy Reuille-Dupont. I was an exercise scientist who turned into a clinical psychologist when I realized being healthy was about more than working out. Now I study how your body is changed by thought and emotion and how thought and emotion impact our physical systems. Here are some of the ways mental and physical health impact each other and 3 ways you can use exercise to optimize your health.

Photo Credit: Photo by Fitsum Admasu on Unsplash

For example your heart has its own electricalsystem that keeps it beating in rhythm, we strengthen it through cardiovascular exercise. This is things like running, biking, swimming, walking, anything you do with your big muscle groups for a period of time that makes your heart beat faster and breath rate go up. 

Equipment like treadmills, recumbent bikes, and elliptical machines are used to help people raise their heart rates indoors and get an effective cardiovascular workout done on limited time.

When we workout doing cardiovascular exercise we help our mood too. Our serotonin 2 endorphins, domaine, oxytocin, acetylcholine, all increase. These are the feel good hormones in our bodies. Doing just 2 – 30 minutes aerobic exercise sessions per week for at least 7 weeks is as good as taking a Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SSRI) anti-depressant medication for depression3

These feel good hormones do more than just make us feel good, they also regulate other processes in our bodies and decrease inflammation throughout our physical system. This is important because inflammation 4 wreaks havoc on our tissues. It creates brain fog, digestive issues, joint pains, weight gain and makes us feel more stressed out. 

When we feel stressed out everything is harder. It’s harder to learn, our relationships are more difficult, often because we are more irritated, it is harder to relax, and harder to get excited about doing fun things, which is exactly what we need to do if we are going to feel better. So it’s a double whammy of struggle. 

When we feel stress we are feeling the increases of chemicals in our endocrine system. Specifically through what’s called the HPA-axis, this is our hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. They work together to shift us into high gear and stay alive through a threat. However if we don’t move those chemicals out of our system they keep us inflamed and don’t help our tissues relax. And our body mind can’t tell if the threat is really happening to us or just something we saw on TV or in our video game5. We feel it in our physical system and then we respond as though it is happening to us even if we are just watching it or playing a game. 

Exercise is also considered a stressor and it works with the HPA-axis 6 too, but it gives us a mechanism to metabolize and use up those chemicals as our muscles, heart, lungs, and bones are working to move faster, lift heavy things, and challenge our fitness levels. So when we move our bodies and challenge ourselves we are building a stronger physical and mental system that works together 7.

Another big way exercise helps us is through our breathing. When we workout we breathe harder. Our lungs are one of four organs that help us get toxins out of our bodies. Exhaling even helps us lose weight8

Breathing is directly tied to our nervous system. When we breathe in we impact our sympathetic system, this is our high energy creative doing and fight/flight side of our nervous system. As we breathe out we impact our parasympathetic nervous system side9. This is our rest, digest, stay, and play, creative inspiration, feel good side. We want to be here more. This is where we feel safe and connected to people around us and something larger than ourselves. This tells our brains we are ok and the world is ok. We don’t have to be afraid. We have help and support when we need it. All humans need these feelings. When we are here our bodies and minds work better. 

So getting enough exercise is really important in our overall health. It helps our bones and muscles get stronger, helps our heart and digestive systems work better, and helps our minds learn faster, our moods feel more positive, and increases our self-confidence. 

Here’s 3 exercises you can do help your body-mind get the workout it needs. 

Running – Running is great because it asks the large muscles of our body to move over time – also known as cardiovascular exercise. Plus it’s hard for most of us and creates a mental game we must play if we are going to keep with it. It teaches our body how to function more effectively and our minds how to stick with boring things. 

Strength training – Strength training is about challenging your muscles to be stronger than they are now. There are lots of ways we can build our strength. So we can usually find something where we don’t get too bored. We just have to pick lifting, pushing, pulling things that are just a little bit heavier than what can comfortably do now. However it’s hard to lift heavy things. This challenges our muscles, builds our bones, and helps our minds remember we can do hard things. 

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Yoga – Yoga asana or postures are known for its ability to help us regulate our nervous systems through repetitive movements linked to our breathing. Remember above I talked about how our breathing is tied to our nervous system? This is part of why yoga works so well. Plus it asks us to contract and lengthen our muscles in a rhythmic pattern that helps our muscles stretch and become stronger under stretch. This is important for our range of motion – how much we can move a joint on our body – and keeps us moving throughout our lifetime. Yoga teaches us to be present to each experience as it happens and to just witness it, let it go as it has happened, and move to the next moment. We do not have to hold onto our judgment, frustration, fear, or joy because things are always changing. Yoga teaches us that change is ok and that we can make it through any changes, good or bad.

If you have a healthy and developed nervous system and strong mind you can handle anything that comes your way. Even the hard stuff, the boring stuff, the wanted and the unwanted stuff. A solid nervous system helps you regulate your emotions better and helps us stay present to our experiences which make our relationships, confidence, and ability to impact our world better. 

Today think about how you can move your body and help control your mind using movement. Challenge yourself to do hard things, lift more, run / walk further, or stay present to your breath. Use your body to experience everything that comes your way today. 

What you do today, impacts what you can do tomorrow. Many won’t be willing to put the effort in today to have the life they want tomorrow. 

Be different. 

Be willing to do the hard work of creating the life you want. This is called living an embodied life. 


Want help incorporating these ideas into your mental and physical fitness routines? 

Check out our integrative clinic at Studiob.life 

We work with people online and in person to learn more about how you can live more embodied everyday, understand how you can cultivate good feelings through simple movements and breathing exercises, and look closer at the science behind what’s happening in your psychology and physiology? 


References: 

1 – Silverman, M. E., Grove, D., & Upshaw, C. B. (2006). Why does the heart beat? The discovery of the electrical system of the heart. Circulation, 133, 2775-2781. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.616771

2 – Peluso M. A. M., & Guerra de Andrade, L. H. S. (2005). Physical activity and mental health: The 

association between exercise and mood. Clinics, 60(1), 61-70.

3 – Wipfli, B., Landers, D., Nagoshi C., & Ringenbach, S. (2011). An examination of serotonin and psychological variables in the relationship between exercise and mental health. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 21, 474-481. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01049.x 

4 – Dandekar, A, Mendez, R, & Zhang K. (2015). Cross talk between ER stress, oxidative stress, and inflammation in health and disease. In Christine M. Oslowski (ed.), Stress Responses: Methods and Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 1292, (205-214). Springer Science+Business Media. DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-2522-3_15

5 – Cunningham-Bussel, A. C., Root,  J.C., Butler, T., Tuescher, O., Pan, H., Epstein, J., Weisholtz, D., S., Pavony, M., Silverman, M. E., Goldstein, M., S.,  Altemus, M., Cloitre, M.,  LeDoux, J., McEwen, B., Stern, E., Silbersweig, D. (2009). Diurnal cortisol amplitude and fronto-limbic activity in response to stressful stimuli. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34(5), 694-704, ISSN 0306-4530, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2008.11.011.

6 – Vassilakopoulos, T., Zakynthinos, S., Roussos, C., & Economou, M. (1999). Strenuous resistive breathing induces proinflammatory cytokines and stimulates the HPA axis in humans. American Journal of Physiology, 277(4), R10103-R1019. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1999.277.4.R1013

7 – Cotman, C. W., Berchotold, N. C., & Christie, L-A. (2007). Exercise builds brain health: Key roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation. TRENDS in Neurosciences, 30(9), 464-472. DOI:10.1016/j.tins.2007.06.011

8 – Meerman, R., & Brown, A. J. (2014). When somebody loses weight, where does the fat go? Gastroenterologocial Tracts. The BMJ, 349(7257), 1-3. doi: 10.1136/bmj.g7257

9 – Appelhans, B. M., & Luecken, L. J. (2006). Heart rate variability as an index of regulated emotional responding. Review of General Psychology (10)3, 229–240. doi: 10.1037/1089-2680.10.3.229

Affordable Ways Women Can Address Their Wellness Needs

Hitting the gym and eating healthy are two essentials in the wellness equation. But for women, the formula isn’t quite that simple. Men often lose weight faster — and keep it off longer — than women, which means ladies need a unique approach to meeting their health goals. Stacy Reuille dishes out affordable advice to help you start living a healthier life.

Photo Credit: Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

Guest Post by: Shelia Johnson at Well Sheila

Women Versus Men: The Differences

A matchup between men and women is always interesting, but it’s not physical strength or intelligence we want to talk about. The truth is that women have more risk factors than men when it comes to health problems like heart disease, says Cleveland Clinic.

Women’s bodies also react differently to stress than men’s — a woman’s heart pumps more blood when she’s stressed, while men’s blood pressures rise. Different symptoms of heart disease can also confuse things. Fortunately, exercise and healthy habits can help women lower their risk.

But it’s not just physical differences that set men and women apart. Women experience depression — and receive a diagnosis for it — more often than men. Postpartum depression is another issue that’s unique to women, and hitting the gym isn’t a cure-all for baby blues.

The fact is that ladies need a unique approach to wellness — both physical and mental — to stay healthy and empowered. Fortunately, there are inexpensive ways to ensure your health and feel your best. Staying focused, motivated, and on track with your weight loss and wellness goals can be challenging. Try these tips to stick with it:

1. Look the Part

Embarking on a weight loss journey can be intimidating, but overhauling your mindset can help. Look at working out as a new adventure — and one that requires a new wardrobe. You can purchase workout gear to support your goals without breaking the bank with Nordstrom Rack coupons and promo codes.

Without overspending, you’ll be looking the part in no time — whether you’re walking, riding an exercise bike, or doing yoga. Plus, studies suggest that donning appropriate workout attire can change your attitude and confidence. In short, you can’t go wrong with yoga pants.

2. Care for All of You

Looking at physical fitness under a microscope means you’re missing the bigger picture when it comes to wellness. Physiology is only part of your path to better health. Psychology can also help you meet your goals and make more significant progress. In short, your mindset matters, so an overall healthy lifestyle needs to include self-care and mental health support as necessary.

On the plus side, this step doesn’t need to cost you much — most insurance plans are required to cover mental health support, for one thing, says the National Alliance on Mental Illness. But routine self-care can also be as simple as taking time to relax, indulging in hobbies you enjoy, and spending time with friends.

3. Know Yourself

Knowing that you hate running or that meditation helps you relax is a good start. But knowing yourself also comes down to understanding your physiology and why losing weight may be more difficult for you than men and even other women.

Women tend to have slower metabolism than men, but you may not see the same results by following your BFF’s meal plan or fitness regimen, either. Customizing a routine that works for your needs is essential for weight loss success. That’s one reason expensive fad diets don’t work — they don’t consider how different each person’s physical makeup is, whether man or woman. Save your money and invest in lifestyle changes rather than weight loss gimmicks.

Caring for your body and mind involves far more than counting calories and hitting the gym. To really reap the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, you need to understand why your body does what it does — and how to keep the entire system in alignment. If you’re ready to combine physiology with psychology for a well-rounded approach to fitness and health, reach out to Stacy Reuille for expert advice today.

Fighting Addiction With Exercise

While recovery from addiction takes many different forms and can be accomplished with many different treatment methods …

Guest Post by: Constance Ray from Recoverywell.org

Photo from: Pixabay

While recovery from addiction takes many different forms and can be accomplished with many different treatment methods, physical fitness is one aspect of the process that benefits just about everyone. You are attempting to help your body recover from a form of abuse, so it only makes sense to get your body in the best shape possible. 

Here are a few tips on how to build and maintain a healthy fitness routine during recovery from addiction, courtesy of Stacy Reuille-Dupont, PhD.

What Your Body Needs

As your body is adjusting to life without drugs or alcohol, it is undergoing some intense changes. While the end result is positive, the symptoms of withdrawal can include shakiness, increased heart rate, sweating, high blood pressure anxiety and more. Exercise can be a great way to fight these symptoms to make the withdrawal bearable; it can also be a healthy routine to continue even after your treatment is complete.

Types of Exercise

There is no one particular type of exercise that works for everyone who is in addiction recovery. Experience Life notes the key is to find a few kinds of physical activity that you enjoy and that helps you get closer to reaching your goals. For some people, this will be lifting weights, for others it will be cardio, for others it will be a sport. Many people find it helpful to mix hard training with activities that are more fun, such as rock climbing, kayaking or water skiing. If you enjoy the exercise, you’re much more likely to stick with it long-term.

Other alternative coping methods such as meditation, yoga and swimming can also relieve stress and anxiety and help you avoid relapse as you continue your fight against addiction. 

Whatever activities you choose, you might find it helpful to apply some tech to your program. A fitness watch, for instance, can help you monitor your progress and help you set goals. There are also numerous apps available to help. Some are dedicated to single exercise types — like Strong for weightlifting — and some are lifestyle apps — like MyFitnessPal or Whoop, which coaches your diet and exercise program as a whole. 

Along those lines, incorporating a holistic approach to your recovery is wise. Addressing your diet and adding meditation, time in nature, and time for socializing with supportive family and friends to the mix is wise. By remembering all your mental, emotional and physical self-care needs, you can raise your defenses that much more, and minimize your exposure to triggers.

Benefits of Exercise in Addiction Recovery

As the Chicago Tribune asserts, staying active can benefit you in several ways as you fight substance abuse. It can reduce your stress, improve your amount and quality of sleep, increase your energy levels, protect you against disease and reduce your drive to smoke and seek drugs. It will also keep you busy as you try to find ways to fill your time so you’re not dwelling on old, destructive desires.

In addition, focusing on exercise and physical fitness can improve your mental and psychological health. Studies indicate that exercise can reduce depression, ease anxiety, improve your self-esteem and lift your general mood, which are all important in the fight against addiction. It’s an avenue to release stress from your body and leave you feeling calm and refreshed. 

Keep a Healthy Routine

Once you have found an exercise program or activity that works for you, do your best to get into a regular daily and weekly rhythm so exercise is just part of your recovery program. You want to get to the point where you don’t have to decide whether or not to exercise – the decision has already been made by the way you have set up your life. This routine will not cure your addiction on its own, but it will play a vital role.

No matter what type of addiction you are facing, recovery is a long road. One way to make the trip smoother is to include a regular exercise routine in your daily life. You’ll find the physical and mental benefits invaluable as you fight to return to normal life without substance abuse.

Connect with Stacy Reuille-Dupont for more ideas to encourage your health and well-being.  Get a free WHOOP strap and your first month free when you join with Stacy’s link

Self-Care for Those That Prefer to Stick Close to Home

If you enjoy spending time alone and prefer to work independently, you’re likely an introvert. Unfortunately, popular media would have you believe that the only way to be healthy is to surround yourself with others. From fitness classes to group-based travel, it’s easy to find self-care opportunities based around interaction. These, however, are not always right for introverts. Here are some things you can do to upkeep your health, no crowd required.

Guest PostBy: Melissa Howard at StopSuicide.info

Know What You Are Putting Into Your Body

There is no way to deny that what you eat has a profound impact on your overall health. The good thing is that eating well is something you don’t need a group of people to do. What you do need, however, is an understanding of food and ways to make healthy eating a habit. And there is no better way to do this than to learn how to prepare your meals ahead of time.

Meal prep starts by identifying long-lasting staples, like oatmeal and rice. You can use oatmeal to pack breakfasts for the road — Foodies Today recommends sweet potato and oatmeal muffins and chocolate overnight oatmeal smoothies. Both of these can be made ahead and enjoyed for days. Rice, which comes in a variety of forms, including Jasmine and long grain, is a likewise long-lasting meal base. Rice and oatmeal may help keep you from overeating.

Your pre-planned meals should also include lean proteins and produce. A bed of rice with shredded chicken, sautéed peppers, onions, and fajita seasoning, for example, is a healthy and delicious lunch that will reheat well in the right container.

Exercise Your Body Every Day

Food is only one aspect of your overall self-care routine. As Time asserts, exercise is just as impactful and can change the way you look and feel, as well as have an effect on mental health. Don’t let yourself get comfortable on the couch for too long; give yourself at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. If you do not want to deal with people, lack self-confidence, or just prefer your own space, there are many exercise programs online

Something else to think about is that you can have fun while working on your abs and agility. If you have a Nintendo Switch, games such as Ring Fit Adventure and Fitness Boxing can keep you moving from the comfort of your living room.

Take Up a New Hobby

Hobbies are not only fun but many, such as drawing, also have mental health benefits. Using the drawing example, putting a pencil to a piece of paper can help you gain a new perspective and may help stave off depression and anxiety. Drawing is also shown to help with your memory. The best part is that with nothing more than a piece of paper or sketchbook and pencil, you can get started today. If you don’t care for visual art, you can take that same paper and pencil and start writing, be it a journal or fiction.

Take Care of Your Home

Are things starting to pile up around your home? Do you often struggle to find the things you need, only to find that they’ve buried under other, less important stuff? If so, then you need to take some time to declutter your home. Not only will it help release any “bad energy” that may have built up in your home as a direct result, but it can help create a sense of peace and calm throughout your property. So, take a hard look around your home, identify areas that need attention, and set to work. You may be shocked at the difference it makes.

How you care for yourself is up to you. However, when your self-care plan doesn’t include crowds, you may need to look for alternative ways to do things like exercise and enjoy your free time. But remember, whether you’re an extrovert, introverted, or something in between, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to prioritize healthy eating. Once you’ve done that, everything else will fall into place.

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