The Miracle Drug

It's not addictive and can benefit everyone

Volume 114, No. 7July, 2014

Siena Shundi, LCSW-R
Siena Shundi, LCSW-R

Siena Shundi, LCSW-R

The office of the Musicians’ Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all kinds of social services, including health insurance, housing, food stamps and more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at or (212) 397-4802.

Musicians spend a lot of time sitting, playing and studying. It’s part of what we signed up for, but isn’t the best for our physical or mental health. Warmer weather can be a wakeup call to take better care of our mind and body.

Now that summer’s here, we should all be feeling a little bit better just by being outside and moving around more. The increased dose of vitamin D we get naturally from the sun also helps.

Studies show that people who exercise regularly are at less risk for many health-related issues. Exercise strengthens your heart, increases energy levels, lowers blood pressure, improves muscle tone and strength, strengthens and builds bones, and helps reduce body fat. Studies also show that people who exercise regularly benefit from lower rates of anxiety and depression, and improved moods.

Did you also know that exercise builds self esteem? You might have heard that exercise releases endorphins. These endorphins dull the pain receptors in your brain. But they also do something else for you: they actually increase your optimism and motivation. Endorphins bind to neuron receptors in a manner similar to pain medication but do not lead to addiction or dependence the way that drugs do.

Exercise reduces stress, prevents feelings of depression and anxiety, and improves sleep. There have actually been studies showing that 30 minutes of carovascular exercise three times a week can be as effective as drugs for mild-to-moderate anxiety or depression! Those who experience major depression or severe mental illness should always consult a doctor. But even in those cases, doctors often recommend exercise to supplement treatment.

When it comes to starting a new exercise commitment, go with what interests you. Dancing, biking, gardening, swimming, jogging, housework, low impact aerobics, tennis, soccer, basketball, yoga, walking, yardwork…the list goes on. Many people find joining a class helpful because of the added social support. But some find solitary activities more fulfilling to allow for some meditation in the experience. Also it’s good to think about what fits your schedule and what goals you have in mind.

If you’re over 50 or have a major medical issue, it’s always best to start a new exercise regime by consulting with your doctor. However, the MAP office is always happy to talk to Local 802 members about their exercise goals – or anything else. If you like Pilates, we are currently running a free class here at the union. If you’re interested, give us a call at (212) 397-4802. Also, we will again be offering free therapy with our new social work intern in the fall. Call us for more information. Have a happy and healthy summer!