How exercise reduces stress, anxiety

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As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, many Americans have reported a decrease in overall physical activity, increased social isolation and elevated stress/anxiety.  These factors have contributed toward an overall decrease in physical and mental health since the beginning of the pandemic. The mental and physical health of Americans has somewhat deteriorated during the pandemic and has resulted in a collective “lockdown fatigue.” 

This lockdown fatigue has been observed within our own patients here at Ripon Medical Center in Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab. Before starting rehab, many of our patients experienced stress and anxiety due to their health. Currently, this pandemic has added to that stress, thus affecting their mental and physical health.

Because our programs are an exercise-based treatment, it is a great method for not only rehabilitating hearts and lungs, but also combating the negative effects of stress. According to an article published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, individuals that regularly exercise have seen positive effects including improved sleep, reduced acute and chronic stress, increased mood, improved energy and stamina, increased mental alertness and reduced tiredness. This has been seen firsthand in our own patients at Ripon Medical Center after beginning their rehabilitation journey.

While continuing to follow safe procedures in this COVID-19 pandemic, there are some other helpful tips you can take to reduce your risk of infection and increase immune health. According to the Harvard Medical Journal, some simple steps to improve immune health include reducing or quitting smoking, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol consumption/drinking in moderation, getting adequate sleep, minimizing stress, getting your proper vaccinations and washing hands.  These measures have been shown to increase immune health and reduce the risk of infection or disease.

While not everyone will be eligible to participate in cardiac and pulmonary rehab, there are many home-based exercise programs that everyone can participate in. Using home equipment, joining the local RMC Wellness Center or watching exercise videos online are just a few of the many ways we can become more active. There is no better time than now to improve our health and by including exercise in our daily lives.

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