I commonly see patients in my psychology practice for depression, anxiety, and other emotional complaints. When I’m taking someone’s history, there’s one question I always ask which may surprise you:
“Tell me how often you exercise.”
The benefits of exercise are enormous and well documented: exercise invigorates, improves mood, reduces anxiety and stress, boosts self-esteem, and improves focus and concentration.
Many of my clients who are new to Los Angeles struggle to develop an exercise regimen here. Many feel overwhelmed and don’t feel they have the time. If this is the issue, change your perspective: exercise isn’t adding to your problem – it’s part of the solution. Exercise is one of the simplest, least expensive ways to manage stress and maintain life balance. With a little creativity, you can build exercise into your routine here.
Sometimes cost is an issue. If running in the great LA weather doesn’t appeal and joining a gym in the Hollywood area is too expensive, there are still numerous opportunities for free and FUN fitness in the area. All of these offer the opportunity to meet people as well.
I lived in this part of the city for 10 years before I was turned on to Runyon Canyon. A 160-acre park at the top of La Brea Blvd, Runyon Canyon has hiking trails up into the hills. It is also a dog park so you can bring your canine companions. (Open 7 days a week from dawn to dusk.) FREE
Hiking trails and further information are available here.
Runyon Canyon Yoga
Yoga classes daily just inside the Fuller entrance of the park. Bring a mat and towel and donation if you want. Yoga classes are offered 4 times per day Monday through Saturday (usually at 8:45, 10:30, 2:00, and 6). Hours vary on Saturday and 3 classes are offered on Sunday. For updated schedules, check here.
Yoga in the Park at Robert Burns Park, 4900 Beverly Blvd. (at Van Ness). Teachers from yogaworks teach the free, one-hour class from 11 a.m. to noon daily. FREE
Night hikes in Griffith Park through the Sierra Club, 4730 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 90027. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 6:45 p.m. The Sierra Club leads fun and instructive two hour hikes through Griffith Park. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and meet at the Upper Merry-Go-Round parking lot. Participants must sign a waiver. 323-913-4688 FREE
As with any lifestyle change, if you have not been engaging in regular exercise, it is a good idea to consult a medical doctor and have a physical checkup before embarking on a new exercise program.
Adding or increasing exercise is often one of the single most potent lifestyle changes you can make to improve your emotional life. It can catalyze other positive lifestyle changes as well. It may even make the difference in your adjustment to life in Los Angeles.
This information was the most up-to date available at the time of writing. Please check individual websites.