A Simple Remedy for the Economic Blues

Photo: Thom W

In the wake of the frenetic holiday season coupled with all the anxiety over these uncertain economic times, it’s little wonder that many of us are feeling a little down. In fact, when you add in the cold weather and the short winter days, it’s a veritable perfect storm of discontent that is hitting many of us at a time when we can least afford to be anywhere but at the top of our game.

So in an effort to battle the economic and seasonal blues, I’d like to suggest a way that has been shown to not only lift your spirits, but might even make you smarter, more productive at your job, and may very well go a long way to help you to live a longer, more fruitful life.

Simply put: get some exercise.

Sure, we’ve all know well enough that exercise is good for our bodies, and that a lack of exercise has been implicated in a whole host of ailments, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity. But now there is a growing body of evidence that seems to indicate that what benefits the body also benefits the mind, not only in terms of our intelligence, but for our emotions and our productivity, as well.

Truth be told, people have known about the mind body connection since antiquity, with the Greeks promoting the importance of exercise almost as much as learning. Even you and I, in the deep recesses of our minds, have experience firsthand how refreshed and clear our minds feel after a good period of exertion.

Somehow, even in lieu of all that we know, we still have trouble getting some exercise. In certain instances, it’s gotten so bad that we can’t even get our of our car seats to buy cigarettes or donuts.

Maybe with the new year, it’s time to do change all that. The impetus lies with you, however, although it need not require a lot in terms of effort, time or money, and when you really get down to it, you can’t beat that.

1. Whenever possible, walk to where you’re going, or ride your bike. I know, it’s a no-brainer, but I grew up in a city (Los Angeles) where it was amazing what lengths people went to in order to avoid walking, even a quarter of a mile.

2. Keep it simple. The biggest deterrent to making the first step is getting too ambitious, and then nothing gets done. Make it as simple as putting on something comfortable and getting out the front door.

3. Eat healthy. The two go hand in hand, but also reinforce one another. Eating too much garbage will only motivate you to eat more garbage (Funny how that works). A healthy diet, on the other hand, will make it that much easier to get up and go.

4. Avoid drive-throughs. You usually find them at fast food joints, and even though the amount of exercise you might get is negligible, it might discourage you from even going entering in the first place.

5. Get an iPod. It doesn’t have to be an iPod, just something that personalizes your routine and makes it more enjoyable. Besides, it could motivate you if you feel guilty having made the investment.

6. Take the stairs. I know, another obvious one, but so hard to employ.

7. Choose to be active. When you have free time, get out and try to break a sweat rather than sitting around the house. Sure, we’re all tired people, but sitting around all day on the couch will only makes us more so

8. Form a group. There is strength in numbers, not only in motivating you, but in sharing your goals or at the very least, clarifying them. And let’s face it, camaraderie is fun.

9. Join your kids. If you’re a parent, join your children when they go outside. Not only is it a chance to spend some quality time with them, but as every parent knows, parenthood is the ultimate endurance sport.

10. Create a schedule. Organization can be an amazing means to an end, especially for disorganized people like myself.

11. Turn off the TV. Nothing saps your energy or motivation more than television. It’s just too darn easy, and once it’s on, it’s like a vacuum that sucks you in, making not only your body soft, but your mind, as well (for all you TV advocates, this is true even when you watch the Discovery Channel). I’ve generally found that most people who take that fateful plunge and stop watching TV don’t regret it.

In the end, getting more exercise will pay off in so many ways, but it is hard to appreciate this concept when you’re not actually doing it.

So just do it. Once you find a groove, you’ll want to do it more, but you just have to take that first step. Otherwise, nothing will change. Plus, when your confidence and self esteem get a boost, the benefits will cross over into all areas of your life, including your love life.

Whatever you do, dedicate yourself to getting more exercise as if your life depends on it, because the truth of the matter is, it does.



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Guest's picture
poor boomer

So when you wake up this morning
And those blues are hangin' round, yeah
Just listen baby,
And I'll tell you what to do

- Chicago III

Guest's picture

Fred, you're so right in that the hardest step is actually getting started.

Motivation will be different for everybody, but it's amazing what just getting out the door can do to help. Thanks for some great tips!

Linsey Knerl's picture

Perfect timing.  I just started getting on my game again.  After 4 close-together c-section deliveries, I thought I would NEVER do a crunch again.  It took awhile, but I'm back.  Thanks for all the little reminders to get us going.  (You rock.)

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
Ruth Ann

Another good reason to exercise is so that you'll be in better shape should something happen and you have to have surgery. I had knee surgery earlier this week...it was planned so I had some time to prepare. I got some exercises (from my surgeon as well as the staff at my gym) to do specifically to strengthen the muscles that I'm using now, post-surgery. I can tell that it's made a huge difference. Having strength in my bad leg has helped a lot, but what's been even more helpful is having the strength in my good leg - the one that I'm spending more time standing on, bending from, etc.

Also huge has been the good balance that I developed (that was more just something that I've been working on rather than something that I did in preparation for the surgery). The balance especially is quick and easy to do. I do unweighted, unsupported in any way squats on a balance cushion, first with both legs and then on each leg indivdually, one set of 12, once a day about, four or five days a week. It takes me less than five minutes and has made a huge difference in my balance.

Now I'm hoping that after my follow-up appointment on Monday I'm cleared to go back to the gym to at least do upper body weights, abs class and maybe some light biking. I really do miss it.

Guest's picture

Today just seems to be a motivating, inspiring day.

After reading this post, and then going to see my hair stylist who's in the best shape of her life from working out the last 6 months, I just signed up for my city's 10K in April. Bonus? My boyfriend and a big group of our friends train for it every year together, so I'll have others to motivate and keep me going.

Thanks so much!

Fred Lee's picture

Hey Everyone,

Great to see that you're inspired to get out and do something good for your mind and body. Ruth Ann, great points you bring up. Not only does being in shape help the healing process, but I'm sure it helps to lessen the impact of an injury. And the best way to be is when you can't wait to get back into it. There are worse things to be addicted to than working out.

Barbara, kudos to you for going for it, and best of luck with it. 

And Linsey, I only rock (subject to interpretation) because I've had the help of other people who truly rock, especially YOU!

Thanks for reading, and remember to get out there and break a sweat. Clothing is optional.


Parenting the Hard Way

Green in the Green Mountain State

Fred Lee's picture

Thanks for the song, it feels like the 70's all over again... in more ways than one.

Guest's picture

I find your article very interesting Fred. You have simple tips that everyone can actually follow. I agree, exercise can really help beat those blues! It would keep you fit and healthy; and improve your life as well!

Guest's picture

OMG that is so cute it is one of my favorite animals EVER!!!

Guest's picture

I also feel so bad for boomer, so so sad...:(