Five Lesser-Known Mental Health Values of Exercise

By Briana Jamshidi, Rehab Technician for ATI Physical Therapy

It has become common knowledge that exercise is good for the body. Regular exercise can aid in weight loss and help strengthen our muscles and bones, but sometimes that isn’t enough to get you exercising on a daily basis. There are numerous mental health benefits that come as a result of working out. These reasons may be the motivating factors you need.

Exercise and Positive Mood

There is a strong link between exercise and the treatment of mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Exercise encourages all kinds of positive changes in your body by releasing endorphins in your brain such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. They are known as the “feel good” chemicals because of their strong influence on your mood.

Exercise and Self-Esteem

When you aren’t happy with the way your body looks, it takes a toll on your confidence. Exercise helps to build your self-esteem by improving how your body moves, feels and looks. Even if you don’t lose weight from exercising, you are likely still strengthening your muscles and creating a firmer appearance of your skin. It can be empowering to run longer, lift heavier weights and stretch farther. These physical results will make you feel better about how you look and improve your confidence and self-esteem.

Exercise and Brain Power

Exercise enhances blood flow throughout your body, as well as in your brain. This increased blood flow supports the survival of new neurons and helps other neurons fire up faster. Exercise has been shown to promote neurogenesis, which allows for the creation and survival of new brain cells in the brain. All of this allows for better cognitive function, memory recall and more creativity.

Exercise and Pain

Studies show that people who exercise and stay flexible are able to better manage their pain than those who don’t. Typically, chronic pain can lower your pain threshold, meaning it takes less pain to cause you discomfort. Exercise, fortunately, helps to increase your pain threshold. The increased blood flow throughout your body allows your joints and muscles to move more freely, which further helps to decrease pain.

Exercise and Stress

When you engage in exercise, no matter what kind, it is wise to practice mind-to-muscle connection. This means focusing on the muscles you are using and intentionally squeezing them. During this time, you actually give your mind a chance to slow down and stop thinking about your stressors. Pair this with the better sleep you will experience from exercising and you will feel a significant reduction in your stress levels.

There are so many different types of exercise, ranging from weight lifting to yoga. No matter the kind, doing some is better than none. Do what you can and not only will you reap the benefits physically, but mentally as well.

Are aches and pains getting in the way of your daily activities?

If simple home interventions are not helping to lessen aches, pains and discomfort, it’s time to see a physical therapist. Stop by your nearest ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a complimentary screening and get back to doing you.

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How Snow Skiing can help keep You Young!

Snow Skiing as a Natural Anti-Aging Remedy

Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush and Steve Kashul talk with Peter Braun MS, LAT, ATC, ITAT from ATI Physical Therapy. This discussion focuses on how snow skiing can keep you young and what make skiing a unique type of exercise.

The effects of time on one’s body are unavoidable and often substantial. Many of us in the field of medicine are in an endless search to find the perfect sport, activity or exercise that will unlock our physical potential, well into our years. Scientific research has found that there are certain factors that contribute to longevity and sustainability.


Bone density, lower extremity strength, balance and cardiovascular endurance all play critical roles in maintaining a physically active lifestyle. With this, physicians make an effort to integrate these factors into exercise plans for much of our elderly population. But what if there was a simpler answer? What if we could prescribe involvement in a recreational activity that naturally addresses all these areas? As we unravel the details, we challenge the question; “Is there such a thing as an anti-aging activity?”

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3 Essential Exercises for Shoulder Stability

Brian Whittington, PT, DPT, CMTPT for Athletico Physical Therapy

The shoulder is a complex joint that consists of a “ball” on one side and a “socket” on the other. Due to this construction, the shoulder is classified as “ball-and-socket” joint. To gain a better perspective on the size of this ball-and-socket joint, think of a golf ball sitting on a tee. On one side you have a really large ball and the other a small socket. The proportions of this large ball and small socket allows for the shoulder joint to have the largest amount of motion of any joint in the body, but there is a price to pay for this amount of motion.

Because the shoulder enjoys so much freedom of motion there is a certain amount of inherent instability in it. Yet, experience tells you that your shoulders don’t fall apart whenever you try and use them. This is prevented by the surrounding shoulder musculature providing the crucial stability it needs during movement. Without this dynamic stability, your shoulders would be in big trouble.

Many of these stabilizing muscles are found on and around your shoulder blade. This means your shoulder blade has an important role in restoring or maintaining the shoulder function, and exercises focusing on this area are critical for proper shoulder stability.1 Here are three shoulder blade exercises that can help build your shoulder “core” to provide superior shoulder stability:

  • If you are currently experiencing shoulder pain, it is recommended to first have your shoulder examined before performing these exercises.

Dynamic Hug – Serratus Anterior Strengthening

Stand with one foot in front of the other and the resistance band around your back or secured behind you. Start with your elbows bent and your hands at chest height. Straighten your elbows while simultaneously reaching as far forward as you can, bringing your hands together at the end of the movement. During this exercise, your arms should be parallel or just slightly above parallel to the ground.

The key to this exercises is to make sure you are reaching as far forward as you can, performing a ”punching” motion. This exercise focuses on strengthening the serratus anterior, which is an important muscle in providing proper shoulder blade upward rotation that is needed for proper shoulder function.

Prone Y- Lower Trapezius Strengthening

Lie on your stomach with one arm off the table or bench and your hand pointed toward the ground. Raise your arm on a 45 degree angle until it is parallel to the ground. When you are performing this exercise, squeeze the lower portion of your shoulder blade toward your spine. Pause for a moment before returning to your starting position.

To advance this exercise, perform both arms simultaneously while on a stability ball. During this advanced exercise, keep your neck in good alignment by not looking forward. Instead, look at the ground a few feet in front of you.

This exercise focuses on strengthening the lower trapezius. This muscle is not only important for performing shoulder blade upward rotation, but also is involved in bringing your shoulder blade down and in toward the middle of your back.

Stability Ball High Row with External Rotation – Middle Trapezius, Infraspinatus, and Teres Minor

Sit on a stability ball (hips and knees at 90 degrees) with a resistance band secured in front of you. Start with your arms in front of you at shoulder height. Perform a row, squeezing your shoulder blades together. When your elbows are in line with your shoulders, rotate your shoulders so that your hands are now toward the ceiling. Return to the starting position by reversing the sequence.

This exercise strengthens the middle trapezius, which is important for bringing the shoulder blades together. The exercise also strengthens the infraspinatus and teres minor, which are important muscles for stabilizing the shoulder during movement.

Increasing Shoulder Stability

Adding these three exercises into your shoulder routine can assist with proper shoulder blade mechanics and help maintain proper shoulder stability. If you experience unusual aches and pains during exercise, make sure to schedule a free assessment at your nearest Athletico location.


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Find us on Apple Podcasts with Siri

Introducing our Listeners to Siri

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  • “Play Sports Medicine Weekly.”
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Listeners can also ask Siri for information about the podcast that is currently playing and request to be subscribed. For example:

  • “What podcast is this?”
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Happy Listening

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