Get Moving and Grooving: Why Prioritizing Movement Matters!

June 2024 | Dr. Madelein Shafferman

Prioritizing Movement

Today marks the official start of summer — that means endless sunshine, adventures, and the perfect opportunity to get moving! Whether it’s a brisk walk to the coffee shop, a dip in your bestie’s pool, or a leisurely bike ride, regular physical activity has the power to transform all aspects of your health. Let’s explore five compelling reasons to make movement a key part of your summer routine.

1. Boost Thyroid Function

The thyroid is the powerhouse of your body! It is responsible for producing hormones that regulate energy, mood, metabolism, and various bodily functions. So show your thyroid a little TLC via physical activity. If you’re dealing with thyroid disorders like hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, or Hashimoto’s, incorporating regular exercise can be beneficial.

Research from a 2015 study shows that exercise helps alleviate depression, a common symptom of hypothyroidism. It also combats fatigue by promoting better sleep patterns, supports healthy weight management by boosting metabolism and burning fat, and reduces the risk of heart disease. Addressing these symptoms allows the thyroid to focus on orchestrating your body’s functions!

2. Balance Your Hormones

Whether you’re cycling through menstruation or navigating (peri)menopause, hormones like estrogen and testosterone rule our bodies. Regular exercise can keep our hormones running in tip-top shape. Decreases in estrogen, for example, can lower serotonin levels and increase irritability, anxiety, and sadness. Exercise directly influences serotonin production, helping to balance estrogen levels and alleviate PMS and menopause symptoms.

Testosterone is crucial for maintaining bone density and muscle tone. As we age, exercise becomes increasingly important in combating declines in bone density and lean muscle mass. For those managing PCOS, exercise improves insulin sensitivity, reducing the risks of obesity and diabetes. These are just a few of the ways that exercise can support our hormones throughout our lives!

3. Elevate Your Mental Health

When we exercise, our bodies release feel-good endorphins like dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine helps to reduce stress levels and combat depression, while serotonin influences various functions, including mood, appetite, digestion, memory, and sleep.

Speaking of those ZZZ’s, getting a good night’s rest is crucial for our adrenal health, which manages cortisol production. This is important because cortisol helps us respond to stress! Quality sleep is also vital for repairing bodily systems and producing the hormones needed to function optimally. When we sleep better, we’re better equipped to handle stress and support our mental health.

4. Improve Digestion

A moving body keeps your gut in motion! When food moves too slowly through your digestive tract, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. Regular exercise boosts blood flow to the gut, delivering essential nutrients and oxygen, which improves gut motility and helps expel waste more efficiently.

Recent studies also suggest that exercise fosters the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. A diverse and balanced microbiome is crucial for regulating hormone production, managing stress response, and supporting a healthy immune system. The more good bacteria you have, the better your gut can perform these vital functions!

5. Movement Enhances Longevity

It’s no secret that maintaining physical health can help you live a long and healthy life. As we explored earlier, regular movement is essential for optimal thyroid and hormonal function, physical and mental well-being, and digestive health — all of which significantly contribute to overall longevity.

A sedentary lifestyle is linked to various health issues like obesity, cardiovascular disease, joint problems, and mental health challenges. By incorporating regular activity into your routine, you can reduce the risk of these conditions, fostering a healthier and more resilient mind and body.

Daily Movement

Make Movement Part of Your Day

While prioritizing 30-60 minutes of exercise a day is ideal, sometimes it’s not always realistic. That’s where NEAT, aka Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, comes in. The small moves you make add up, so don’t underestimate the power of 20, 10, or even 5 minutes of movement! 

Low-effort movements like making the bed, taking the stairs, strolling through the grocery aisle, cooking dinner, or playing with your kids helps to burn calories and counter the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle, such as cardiovascular or metabolic disease. Pretty neat, right?

 

Embrace Movement This Summer

Now’s the perfect time to start incorporating movement into your life. Whether you’re hiking through the woods (have you tried forest bathing?), swimming in the lake, or trying a new dance class, find activities that bring you joy and make them part of your routine. Remember, consistency is key — it takes about 90 days to form a habit, so let this summer propel you into a healthier, more active lifestyle!