Starting on Monday, July 13, and running through Monday, August 3, Blue Cross encourages you to share photos of you and your friends and family getting outside and getting fit by hiking, biking, paddling, swimming – whatever outdoor activity you choose. When you post on your own page, be sure to @BCBSVT. You can post as many photos as you like – the more you add, the better your chances of getting picked. To learn more about how to get involved and have a chance to win, please visit www.bcbsvt.com/hikebikepaddle On August 3, two submissions will be chosen at random.
There are countless benefits of exercising and being outside. Exercise elevates the heart rate, releasing endorphins and sending more oxygen to the brain. This creates a natural anti-depressant in the body while triggering the growth of brain cells and increased plasticity in the hippocampus, according to a study by Dr. Qinxue Ding, et. al. of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
“Those endorphins make you feel happy, and during this time of anxiety and stress, exercise is more important than ever,” says Megan Peek, Director of Community Relations and Health Promotion at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont.
While biking, running, and hiking give you that natural exhilaration, paddling on a serene body of water offers tranquility. Allowing quiet moments of reflection can bring inner clarity and daydreaming. While your sixth-grade teacher may not have approved, we surely do. A 2012 study by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science and the University of Wisconsin found that a wandering mind has a strong correlation with increased working memory. When you take a break from the screen in our increasingly virtual world and get out to take a walk or paddle, you are improving your capacity to hold information. Taking an exercise break can lead to more productivity and improved working memory.
Moreover, giving your body exercise helps you sleep better at night. Good sleep is critical to help your body recharge and give your immune system a boost. Pay attention to the timing of your exercise and give your body a few hours to allow the endorphins released during exercise enough time to filter out of the body before bedtime. “People who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise may see a difference in sleep quality that same night. It’s generally not going to take months or years to see a benefit,” says Dr. Charlene Gamaldo, medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep. “And patients don’t need to feel like they have to train for the Boston Marathon to become a better sleeper.”
During this time when physical distancing is the norm people can feel more isolated, which can be detrimental to mental health and wellness. Invite a friend to rent a pair of kayaks and get out on the water together, or take a hike through one of the beautiful Vermont State Parks. Regardless of how you spend your time, get outdoors, get moving and as always, have fun!
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is Vermont’s only local, not-for-profit health plan. For over 70 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont has been enhancing the health and well-being of the Vermonters by offering innovative plans to individuals, seniors and businesses. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is dedicated to developing new ways to support high quality care and programs and events that promote wellness. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.bcbsvt.com.
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