TOOL 4: Exercise
Exercise can improve our mental health!
Research shows that exercise has a positive impact on mood: exercisers often report less anxiety, and exercise can help improve feelings of mild to moderate depression. Exercise can also help us be less affected by stress, by regulating stress hormones. (Note: Your maternity health care provider can help you choose appropriate exercise ideas.)
One way our body gets rid of extra stress hormones is through our tears and our sweat. Sometimes a good cry or sweaty exertion is just what we need to get back in balance.
But I just don’t have the energy to do major exercise now
Luckily, to get this positive impact on our mood, we don’t have to do high-intensity exercise. It is actually more effective to stay within our comfort zone and slowly increase our activity levels. Anything active counts. Because of the pregnancy, you may have to get creative about ways to increase your daily activity. The aim is just to get your body moving.
"Walking is man’s best medicine.— Hippocrates."
Ideas for getting your body moving other than the gym
- Park a block from work or appointment and walk the rest.
- Use stairs when you can.
- Do prenatal yoga.
- Dance to music.
- Get exercise DVDs (often available through your library).
- Be inefficient when doing housework and make more trips up and down stairs.
- Find a bit of nature to walk in.
- Offer to walk your neighbour’s dog.
- Even just getting up to change channels can make a difference!
If you are looking for a little extra motivation for getting active, watch 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?
For more ideas on getting started, see Finding it hard to exercise?