How to Correctly Use Movement and Exercise to Defeat Depression and Loneliness, Reduce Worry, and Eliminate Anxiety with Dr. Kelly Mcgonigal + The Extraordinary Link Between Mindful Movement, Joy, and Human Connection

Dr. Caroline Leaf
6 min readMar 19, 2020

We all know that exercise is good for us, but did you know that movement changes us from the inside out, improving both our mental and physical health? I recently discussed the power of movement with bestselling author, research psychologist and lecturer at Stanford Dr. Kelly Mcgonigal, and how exercise can help defeat depression, anxiety, loneliness and shame, making us feel more connected with ourselves and with others.

Kelly has always loved exercise and movement. As someone who is prone to anxiety, she discovered from young that different types of movement could help her control and process her thoughts and feelings, and wanted to explore her love of exercise in her new book, The Joy of Movement.

Too often, we think of exercise as a kind of chore or task. Like eating well, it is something we need to do to stay healthy. It can be hard and intense, but it is well worth the struggle, right? But movement is so much more than that! As Kelly says, movement can be a beautiful, pleasurable and fun experience, and is a profound way to support our mental and physical wellbeing.

In fact, there is no rulebook when it comes to exercise. All movement is good movement, and we need to find out what works for us, even if it doesn’t make you feel out of breath. We are all different, and we all have different desires, capabilities and needs. Movement that gets the heart rate going and helps us feel more engaged in life is a way to celebrate and enjoy, not deny and despise, this diversity. The mental and physical benefits of exercise is not limited to the young and able-bodied. Regular movement is wonderful for people of all ages and with all sorts of mental and physical abilities, and can be incorporated into every area of our lives, whether we skip around the house, dance up and down the stairs or have fun crawling from room to room with our loved ones.

And, when we look at the data, people who are more physically active are happier, have more meaningful lives, have better relationships, experience more positive emotions and deal with depression and anxiety better! Every time we move our body, we are giving ourselves a dose of happiness and health and are investing in…

Dr. Caroline Leaf

Mental health expert. I have spent the last 30+ years researching ways to help people manage mental health issues in school, work, and life: