Exercise is not just about getting fitter, stronger and trimmer it can also massively improve your mental health and general well-being. In fact it is that sense of well- being the tends to motivate people to exercise regularly.

Regular exercise can make you feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about yourself and your life. And it’s also a powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to feel the benefits. Research indicates that moderate amounts of exercise can make a real difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to deal with mental health problems, improve your energy and outlook, and get more out of life.

Obtaining the mental health benefits of exercise is easier than you think

You don’t need to devote hours out of your busy day to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of exercise. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week is enough. And even that can be broken down into two 15 minute or even three 10 minute exercise sessions if that’s easier.

Even a little bit of activity is better than nothing

If you don’t have time for 15 or 30 minutes of exercise, or if your body tells you to take a break after 5 or 10 minutes that’s okay, too. Start with a 5 or 10 minute session and slowly increase your time. The more you exercise, the more energy you’ll have, so eventually you’ll feel ready for a little more. Try to commit to some moderate physical activity (however small) on most days. As exercising becomes a habit, you can slowly add extra minutes or try different types of activities. If you keep at it, the benefits of exercise will begin to pay off.

How to get started with exercise when you have a mental health issue

When you feel depressed, anxious, stressed or have another mental health problem, it can seem impossible to motivate yourself – You know exercise will make you feel better, but depression has robbed you of the energy and motivation you need to work out, or your social anxiety means you can’t bear the thought of being seen at an exercise class or running through the park.

Start small :

When you’re under the cloud of anxiety or depression and haven’t exercised for a long time, setting huge goals like completing a marathon or working out for an hour every morning will only leave you more despondent if you fall short.So it’s much better to set small achievable goals and build up from there.

Find activities you enjoy:

Any activity that gets you moving counts. That could include putting your favourite tunes on and dancing or throwing a ball with a dog , even walking laps of a shopping centre count ( though may not help your bank balance as much!!!!). If you’ve never exercised before or don’t know what you might enjoy, try a few different things. Activities such as gardening or tackling a home improvement project can be great ways to start moving more when you have a mood disorder—as well as helping you become more active, they can also leave you with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Try something new :

This may sound scary but you might actually find an activity you really enjoy. There is such a wide variety of classes out there from dance based fun classes to weight based classes and indoor cycling. If you enjoy a class you will be more motivated to stick at it .

Be comfortable:

Wear clothing that you feel comfortable in and choose a setting that you find calming or energizing.

Schedule workouts when your energy levels are highest:

Be aware of when you are feeling more energetic and choose these times to workout. If depression or anxiety has you feeling tired and unmotivated all day long, try dancing to some music or simply going for a walk. Even a short, 15-minute walk can help clear your mind, improve your mood, and boost your energy level. As you move and start to feel a little better, you’ll often boost your energy enough to exercise more vigorously.

Make exercise a social event:

Exercising with a friend, loved one or your kids, will not only make exercising more fun and enjoyable, it can also help motivate you to stick to a workout routine. You’ll also feel better than if you were exercising alone. In fact, when you’re suffering from a mood disorder such as depression, the companionship can be just as important as the exercise.

Reward yourself:

Part of the reward of completing an activity is how much better you’ll feel afterwards, but it always helps your motivation to promise yourself an extra treat for exercising.

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