< back to articles listings

The Magic Pill of Exercise

by Will Graebe |

What if I told you that there was a pill that you can take that will immediately boost your mood, lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of diabetes and cancer, improve your focus and memory, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, reduce inflammation in your body, delay brain aging and neurodegenerative disease, and reduce negative symptoms of stress? You should also know that this pill would, if taken correctly, have little or no side effects. Would you take it? I’m guessing most would. Well, it is available. It’s just not available in pill form. But it is available in the form of physical exercise and movement. Studies have shown that individuals who engage in consistent exercise routines can experience all these benefits.

Exercise has long been known to improve our physical health. Regular exercise can improve our cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Additionally, exercise, if done properly, can reduce harmful inflammation in the body. Strength, agility and flexibility that come from regular exercise can also help to avoid injury and premature aging.

But did you know that exercise is a natural mood booster. When we move our bodies and contract our muscles, we generate a cocktail of feel-good chemicals in our body. We get a burst of the reward hormone dopamine. And we get a dose of the happy chemical serotonin. Mix in the pain and stress relieving endorphins, and you have a nice little elixir. But it doesn’t stop there. We now know that when we contract our muscles, they secrete protein molecules called myokines. These molecules are released in the blood stream and travel to various organs in the body, including the brain. Research suggests that, in addition to improving liver and pancreas health, myokines may also work as a natural anti-depressant and make the brain more resilient to stress.

Despite the numerous benefits of exercise, many people find it difficult to incorporate a regular fitness or movement routine into their day. When people are asked why they don’t exercise, the most common excuses are lack of time, lack of motivation, and simply being too tired. Other excuses include being too old, not being athletic, or not liking exercise. If you are one of those people, I want to suggest that maybe you just haven’t found the right kind of exercise or movement.

Exercise does not have to be about going to the gym or a fitness class. It does not have to be running, cycling, swimming, calisthenics, or some particular sport. If none of these traditional exercise modalities motivate you, think outside the box. Any kind of movement can count as exercise. Maybe it’s a dance class. It can be as simple as a walk in your neighborhood or a hike in a park. You might enjoy non-traditional forms of movement like tai chi, paddleboarding, kayaking, ice skating, rollerblading, kickboxing, water aerobics, or martial arts. Find what brings you joy. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

When you find that form of movement that brings you joy, here are some tips for staying on track:

  1. Start small and build. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient.
  2. Tell a friend or family member you are starting an exercise or movement practice. Studies show that, when we share a goal with another person, we are more likely to stick with it.
  3. Find a partner or group to move with. Relational connection is an essential component of well-being. When we combine relational connection with movement, we add oxytocin to our elixir.
  4. Change your perception about what exercise is. If you view your chosen form of movement/exercise as a chore, you are less likely to endure. Develop a mindset of gratitude and opportunity. Tell yourself that you “get” to do this and not that you “have” to do this.
  5. Don’t fall prey to the cultural message that exercise has to be about “getting thin” or “looking ripped.” That often leads to comparison shaming, perfectionism, and obsession with appearance. Focus more on how exercise will make you feel better.

So, when you are feeling the sometimes overwhelming stress of your personal and professional life, take a dose of movement. By embracing regular physical activity as an integral part of our lives, we can create a more balanced and fulfilling existence, where both our bodies and minds thrive in harmony.

About the Author

Will Graebe

Will Graebe came to Lawyers Mutual in 1998 as claims counsel. In 2009, Will became the Vice President of the Claims Department and served in that role until 2019. After a two-year sabbatical, Will returned to Lawyers Mutual as claims counsel and relationship manager. In his role as claims counsel, Will focuses primarily on claims related to estates and trusts, business transactions and real estate matters. Will received his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Stetson University. Prior to joining Lawyers Mutual, will worked in private practice with the law firm of Pinna, Johnston & Burwell.  

Read More by Will >

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Newsletter Signup