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The fringe benefits of exercise … stay hopeful!

I’ve got high hopes, high apple pie in the sky hopes. So, any time you’re feeling sad, instead of feeling bad, just remember that ant … the ant that thought he could move a rubber tree plant.

Glimmers of hope are few and far between these days. Given his mindset, that optimistic ant surely had to be a regular exerciser. I think I know why.

There is no denying that being a physical therapist, I am all in when it comes to the facts about how important exercise is for our body.

Our bodies want to move, so, in this time when we are all stuck in our homes sitting around doing very little, I’d like to put a different spin on the importance of exercise.

In a prior article, I gave the scientific evidence that dismantled the belief that “older adults” can’t benefit from exercise or get stronger because they are “too old.” Besides building strength, endurance, reducing pain and body fat, there are many more benefits to regular exercise.

My daughter seemed to spend a little more time today on her regular exercise, basketball drill routine.

Afterward, I overheard her say, “I just came up with a new exercise, and that workout made me feel great!” Not surprising to me because I’m a scientist.

Exercise improves your mood by the release of endorphins in your brain. What do they do? They make you feel happy!

Finding something that is proven to make you happy is gold right now. And those same endorphins help with better mental health.

Anxiety is a serious concern, and now more than ever, people are feeling the stress of it all. Rather than take a pill, take a walk and get your body moving.

If you aren’t anxious, you are probably bored.

On the general daily menu of things to do, I’m sure yours has many fewer choices. Unable to find things to positively occupy your time? Guess what? Studies show that when you exercise, your mind tends to be free, and great ideas and thoughts seem to move to the front of your mind without putting much “thought” into it.

The most powerful CEOs in the world often exercise when they are brainstorming company ideas. Maybe your boredom cure can be found while you exercise.

For people who don’t love the idea of exercising because you don’t like to be tired, I’m glad you got this far into the column.

Regular exercise makes your body so much more efficient at using energy that you actually feel less tired when you exercise regularly. I’m not making this stuff up, people. And it also makes you sleep better by helping your body’s internal clock stay more accurate.

When the news has your mind so twisted and you toss and turn … well, you know by now what I’m going to suggest.

Finally, when real life makes you feel as if you are in a sci-fi movie where your health is in jeopardy, the beauty of regular exercise is that it boosts your body’s immune system, allowing you to stay healthy, more mobile and active, and happier for a long time to come.

It’s worth it to try exercising for a few weeks to see if I’m correct. (By the way, I know I’m correct!). Please consult a professional if you are uncertain about exercise. We are all here to help you.

I’ve got high hopes that better days are ahead. We are in a time where we should prepare ourselves to take full advantage of those better times.

Exercise is a great way to help you in many ways now, then, and for as long as you live. Be safe and stay healthy.

Joel J. Digris is a Schuylkill County resident with a master’s degree in physical therapy. He is currently employed by Achieva Rehabilitation as an outpatient provider of physical therapy and serves residents in Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties.