Exercise your way to good mental health
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
There is simply nothing like waking up to sunshine after a weeks worth of rain and grey clouds. Even the birds celebrate with their warbling and chattering calls.
Pulling on your favourite activewear and adidas you head out the door with a spring in your step.
Many people know and understand the benefits of exercise on physical health - increase in cardiovascular fitness, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. It can reduce the risk of illnesses like diabetes, obesity, cancer, dementia, alzheimers and parkinsons disease. Exercise can also help you lose weight.
But there are many benefits to our emotional and mental wellbeing that come about through exercise, even a simple 30 minute lunch time walk.
Some of the many ways that exercise positively influences your mental health:
Exercise improves mood - promoting the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain, like endorphins and serotonin
Exercise gives you energy.
Exercise reduces stress.
Exercise improves brain function and helps concentration.
Exercise increases creativity.
Exercise helps you sleep better so you rest fully at night and feel more energised during the day.
Exercise gives you a sense of accomplishment as your fitness improves and you start achieving your goals.
Exercise improves self confidence.
Exercise as a shared activity with others gives the added benefits of social connection.
The results of exercise can last long beyond the time that you are exercising.
This from exercise right :
Exercising can result in a prolonged increase in your metabolic rate for up to 72 hours post-exercise. One study has shown that after 45 minutes of vigorous cycling, participants experienced an approximately 40% rise in their metabolic rate for 14 hours post-exercise.
What if you are having trouble starting
Start with small steps - just walking ro 15 mins at lunch time will increase your mood. Do this everyday for a week and you will have begun to build a new routine.
Find your reason - it may be that you want to increase your fitness or it may be that you want to feel better about life - or maybe ultimately you want to be able to complete a 5k run or a half marathon - every journey starts with the first step. Onto that we build.
Download an app - the C25K apps are great (Couch to 5k) and take you from zero exercise to being able to sustain a 5 k run on a regular basis. The Jeff Galloway app lolo 5k is one of the best I have used as he talks you through the entire process and you can modify every aspect of it to tailor fit your needs.
Set goals - make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely - and monitor your progress
Dont give up - it is amazing how good you can feel if you just keep going, just push through that next barrier, even if you dont hit your goal, doing something is better than doing nothing at all.
Encourage yourself. Self talk can make the difference between starting and not starting - achieving and not achieving. Lets be our best supporters and cheer ourselves on. Being self critical can lead to giving up entirely. Say things like "You've got this" "you are doing so well" "I am really proud that you got out of the house today" "I can do anything for 15 minutes" "I may not have it today, but if I keep doing this, I will have it by July (or 3 months down the track etc)"
Every day is a new start and a new opportunity. Will you start today?
The decisions we make today determine how we live tomorrow.
Just do it.