Movement as Medicine

  • Posted on: 30 August 2017
  • By: OMSA Wellness

I recently heard that some animals have this ability to physically shake off stress when they go through a fearful situation. It reminded me firstly of course of the Taylor Swift song “Shake it Off” and then also got me thinking about the role that exercise can play in physically shaking off stress. I think one of the challenges of medical school is that there can be a consistent layer of stress throughout, even when I may not feel particularly stressed I may see physiological manifestations of stress such as a new pimple. To help me with this, I have found that movement is key to target stress. Here are some ways I’ve been able to get active that I hope are helpful for you too!

1. Hiking: I find that most cities will surprise you when you go looking for trails; there are so many beautiful trails in Hamilton which I did not expect at all when I first moved here. I have found that going with groups and going at different times of day are great ways to make the same trail feel like a new experience each time. Breaking out the camera is also a great way to capture memories and be observant of animals and plants that you may not have stopped to admire otherwise.

2. Skating: I can barely skate but I love going to Pier 8 Skating Rink! I think the biggest reason is the company of friends, the great music and the view. It’s one of the sneaky ways I get a lot of cardio exercise in without feeling like I’m putting in a lot of effort.

3. Swimming: This is another exercise that is really fun for me, and again something that I do because I love it not because I’m a particularly talented swimmer. One of the wonderful things I discovered is that with my student card I had access to the pool at our school and they have fun nights and lane swim in both the shallow and deep end for swimmers of all levels.

4. Going to the Gym: This is an expected example but one that is surprising for me because I used to never make time to go to the gym. I found that once I got started doing my own thing in the gym even if it was a simple routine of treadmill and sit-ups I could feel the benefits in my body and concentration. Even though making time can be difficult even if I miss a workout or several I always find myself back in the gym as soon as I can.

5. Dance: Dance for me is something I got involved in in university and was a great social and as well as physical fitness outlet. One of the best things about dance as well is the show we put on at the end of learning the routines, having the opportunity to perform is it’s own kind of excitement and confidence booster! Even if you’re like me and don’t have any experience there are groups on campus that I found that take on beginners.