Most people start walking, jogging, or biking as a way to shed excess pounds. They know there are many benefits to physical fitness, but human nature usually needs some kind of motivation to move — and that’s often a look in the mirror. Many others started outdoor activities as a way to cope with the stress and isolation of the pandemic.

If you’re one of those people who have developed a regular habit of walking or any other kind of intentional movement, you’ve probably noticed that you quickly started feeling better. You felt physically healthier, but almost instantly, your mood started to improve. You found yourself smiling more and thinking more positively.

It’s not a coincidence. When we’re actively moving, our bodies reward us by generating chemicals known as endorphins that reduce pain and improve our mood. Instead of cabin fever and frustration at not being able to do more, we become more positive and hopeful. Getting out and moving also shifts our focus from the walls of our home to the ever-changing wonders of the outside world. I can’t tell you how many people have mentioned that they’ve been amazed by the number of beautiful birds and flowers they’ve noticed since the pandemic began. They’ve actually always been around, but people notice them more, and the beauty and wonder of God’s creation triggers more joy … and more stress-relieving hormones.

Movement also keeps our immune systems stronger, so we’re better able to avoid getting sick … and if we do find ourselves with a virus or cold, a healthy immune system will allow us to recover far more quickly. That’s important, so we can help the others around us who may need more from us in the days and weeks to come.

You may not have the energy or desire for an intense workout, but even a 20-minute walk around your neighborhood or in a nearby park can help you keep the frustrations and fears of the current situation from becoming overwhelming. That’s especially true if you make the effort to be intentional … to pause from your daily routine and search for the beauty that surrounds us.

So if you’re feeling frustrated, bored, or just fed up, don’t just sit there. Start moving and you’ll be surprised how quickly you start feeling better. Need ideas for making movement a bigger part of your daily routine? We’re happy to help.

Ginger Boyce worked in clinical research before deciding to teach trauma sensitive yoga and movement as a way to help with mental health challenges.