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. 

High quality yoga accessories at great prices!

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.

How to work out and get exercise right during a pandemic

I have been getting lots of questions about how to workout during shelter in place rules. A number of people have struggled feeling tired and overwhelmed even though they aren’t sick and not working out regularly. So many of us are off our routines. When we get off our routines our system gets off. This is our nervous system response to stress.

We often do not realize how much work our bodies are doing to manage stress. We feel like it should be fine, we should be fine. And … we are not. We are in need of more rest and support – even when things are not “that bad”. It is important to listen to your body and meet it where it is. Give it what it needs to be your optimal self.

Here are a few suggestions to help you get moving even when your nervous system is busy managing the uncertainty and stress.

For more information on working with your body and nervous system to program your workouts: read more here https://stacyrd.com/get-moving-the-li…

For more videos to help you stay on psychological track, check these out: https://stacyrd.com/exercise-videos-f…

You can learn more about me on my blog at: www.Stacyrd.com

or psychology practice website: www.stacyreuille.com

Double Up – Weekend Warrior Workout

A little bit of cardio, a little bit of strength. Get your workout on this weekend. Improve your mood, self confidence, sex life, and get more done on your to do list … all by taking care of you.

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

Warm Up Moves

  • 10 Sweepers
  • 10 Imaginary baseball bat swings – alternate sides and pay attention to rotation
  • 10 High Kicks each leg- alternate legs, keep back tall, and core tight
  • Runners lunge to front and to each side. Hold 3-5 sec each leg & position

Cardio Set

Do 2 sets of the exercises below for 30 seconds each movement

  • Power Burpees
  • Plank Clocks to each side
  • Rocket Girls
  • Side Plank Drops
  • Lateral Squat Shuffle
  • 1-leg 4 square hops

Strength Set

Do 2 sets of the exercises below for 10 repetitions each

  • Medicine Ball Squats with contra lateral over the should lifts (med ball or dumb bell will work)
  • Single leg lunge kick through – right leg
  • Frog jumps
  • Single leg lunge kick through – left leg
  • Table top lift with side plank rotation

Repeat both exercise blocks above 2 times each and stretch. Enjoy the feeling of finishing your workout today!

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

As always have fun living in your body today!

Three Exercises To Do When You Are Short On Time

You are into your workouts. You know when, where, and how long you are going to workout. You know which exercises you are going to do and why you are doing them. You are almost to your workout time – when something derails you! Now what are you going to do? You know you need to workout and you really want to but your time just got cut way short. Here are three exercises you can do to work the majority of your body quick!

The Push-Up – push ups focus your work on the chest and triceps (back of the upper arm). Remember safety. Keep your core tight. This allows you to work the abdominals and lower back as you stabilize your movements. You can do push-ups on the wall, on your hands and knees, or on your hands and toes. You can also change arm positions to emphasize the muscles differently.

The Squat – A basic squat gets most of your lower body. Your quadriceps work to extend your knee as you stand, your glutes and hamstrings work through the hip extension, your tibialis anterior (front of the lower leg) may do work as you flex at the ankle and your gastrocnemius and soleus (calfs) may work if you finish the movement on your toes. Add in plyometrics and jump and you’ve added another layer of work.

The Pull-Up – pull-ups work your latissimus dorsi in either shoulder adduction or shoulder extension depending on where you choose to place your hands (your grip can be narrow or wide depending on the bar you are using). As you pull yourself up you must bend the elbow which is accomplished by your biceps. Again, this can be a very difficult exercise but can be modified to meet your needs. You can lie flat on your back with a chair on either side of you. Place a sturdy bar over the chair seats (make sure the chairs or the bar are not going to move) and pull up only your upper body. You can use a table, counter, playground equipment, etc to modify the height you are pulling up from. The lower the bar the less weight you’ll have to lift. As you become stronger you’ll be able to lift more of your body weight – until all the sudden you’ll be able to lift your entire body weight!

So in just three exercises you have trained your:

  • Chest
  • Triceps
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Possibly your calfs and front of the lower leg
  • Back
  • Biceps
  • And throughout your abdominals, lower back, and shoulders have stabilized your movements and worked in an isometric contraction.

Check out my YouTube Channel for home workouts, exercises, and equpiment ideas to set up your home gym… And yourself up for success. 

And you thought your workout had to be long!