Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll likely have heard the name Kamala Harris. Harris is Joe Biden’s running mate and is, it seems, all set to be the first woman of color VP in American history. At 55, Kamala Harris is an inspiration to us all, and her secret? Exercise every single morning which she claims is “the best way to start the day”.
In an interview with former President Barack Obama, Kamala said that one of her ways of staying fit, healthy, and energized with such a busy schedule is working out every single morning no matter how little sleep she’s had. Though like many of us, Harris used to frequent the gym, with COVID-19, things have changed. But Kamala says that exercise is ‘vital’ in order to feel good. So, she had to come up with a creative way to maintain her exercise routine under lockdown.
Working Out Under Lockdown
Like many of us, when the lockdown struck and gyms were closed, she went out and tried to buy some weights which she could use at home. Unfortunately, like toilet paper, they were sold out. So, to replace her traditional weights, Harris took to using full liter water bottles as hand weights. Other than workouts which include hand weights, Harris says that her routine varies and can also include 30 minutes on the treadmill, elliptical machine, or even swimming. Ever relatable, Harris commented to The Cut in 2018 [on swimming] that it’s great “if it’s not going to create an issue with my hair”.
During weekends when she has time, Harris is also fond of SoulCycle classes which she described to The San Francisco Chronicle in 2017 as being “like going to the club”. It is clear that for Harris, with such a hectic schedule, exercise is a key part of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and she’s right. According to the Mayo Clinic, all forms of exercise be it yoga or aerobic activity, can act as a stress reliever. Adding exercise to your life can seem like a rather stressful thing to do, especially when your schedule already seems packed to capacity. However, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, just *75-150 minutes of exercise a week is good enough for an average adult. This is just 10-20 minutes a day, 7 days a week or, if you want your weekends off, 15-30 minutes a day five days a week.
Even going for a brisk walk can help! The most important thing is to not bite off more than you can chew. If a 10-minute brisk walk is all you can manage in the beginning, that’s a great start!
Food and Mood
Harris is also quick to point out that exercising daily shouldn’t be about losing weight but rather for your mind. This is something she emphasizes when she mentors college students. Eating healthily is a vital part of a balanced life, exercising isn’t enough on its own. Eva Selhub MD, a contributing editor of the Harvard Health Blog, points out that your brain is always ‘on’ and needs constant fuel. She describes the brain as being “like an expensive car,” and says it “functions best when it gets only premium fuel”. So the best foods to eat are “high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants”.
The main player in maintaining a balanced mood according to Selhub is Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps “regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain”. Both exercise and healthy food can boost serotonin levels which ultimately make you feel better in mind and body. The best foods for boosting serotonin levels? “Vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, fish and seafood” are best, and restricting the intake of processed food is also vital.
Moral of the story? Kamala Harris is, unsurprisingly, right, and eating healthily and getting your daily dose of exercise (no matter what it is) is vital for maintaining a healthy work-life balance which is something we all need, especially in 2020.
Harris, K via Instagram. Your vote is your voice, and your voice is your power. [Online] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/CHHFwTgjzhB/.
Lochhead, C. 2017. Kamala Harris faces high expectations as California’s new senator. [Online] Available at: https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/amp/Kamala-Harris-faces-high-expectations-as-10831315.php
Mayo Clinic. 2020. Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. [Online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469.
Obama, B via Twitter. Interview with Kamala Harris. [Online] Available at: https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/1303302067847663617
Selhub, E MD. 2015. Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. [Online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626.
Silman, A. How I Get It Done: Kamala Harris. [Online] Available at: https://www.thecut.com/2018/08/kamala-harris-interview-daily-routine.html.
Stieg, C. 2020. What Kamala Harris does every day for mental focus. [Online] Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/08/dem-vp-candidate-kamala-harris-morning-workout-routine-for-focus.html.