THE MOVEMENT TOOL
WHY IT MATTERS
Study after study shows that physical inactivity leads to depression, and that physical inactivity is common among people with serious illnesses and disabilities. Research also shows that adding depression to the state of having a chronic illness incrementally worsens health.
This means that not managing depression can make one more sick than they already are.
Remember that depression is a form of stress, and stress is a widely-known toxin to the body. It causes fatigue, leads to other disease, and weakens the immune system – making those with chronic illness even more susceptible to additional health concerns. Additionally, patients with depressive symptoms are less likely to adhere to prescribed medical treatments (i.e. medications, doctors’ appointments) and are therefore at risk for reducing their quality of life.
If the demands on a care partner lead to their own depression, they are less available to their loved one and put their own health at risk. Carving out even small amounts of time to exercise is not just a form of self-care but also a way to sustain the care they can provide for their loved one.
Simply put, movement is an antidepressant
When we move the body, we release dopamine, a chemical that plays a major role in happiness, and therefore health. Multiple studies have concluded that any movement at all – stretching, dancing, or going for a stroll – has short-term and long-term benefits. Sustained physical exercise produces an immediate anxiety-reducing, relaxing “high” due to the release of endorphins. Long-term, movement is associated with increased energy, better sleep, healthier bodily system function – which all reduce mental discomfort and chances for physical disease.
By exercising the body, we are gaining a positive mood and decreasing our chances of additional health problems.
There are so many ways to move the body – and even more ways to adjust exercises to your unique condition – that it would be impossible to cover them all here. Instead, we chose to break movement down into four main categories so that you can easily modify for your individual needs.