How to Improve Your Mental Wellbeing With Exercise

By: Nicola Hodren 

We are all familiar with the benefits of exercise for our physical health, but we often forget that exercise is one of the best things we can do to protect and improve our mental wellbeing.

Exercise can ease depression, anxiety, and stress while boosting mood, cognitive function, and self-esteem. Plus, it’s a chance to connect with others and have fun! When you exercise, your brain releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These are like natural mood boosters, helping to relieve stress and leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.

But how do you create an exercise routine that works for you? Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Understand Barriers

Figure out what’s holding you back—like time, energy, or motivation—and brainstorm solutions. For example, if you can’t squeeze in a full 30 minute workout, break it into smaller chunks throughout the day.

2. Find What You Enjoy

Pick activities that you actually like doing. There’s no point pushing yourself to do something you get no satisfaction from. Whether it’s yoga, dancing, cycling, playing sports, or going for a hike, the key is to choose something that is enjoyable and gives you a sense of achievement. Notice which types of activities leave you feeling good about yourself.

3. Start Small

You don’t need to run a marathon or spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits of exercise. Even small amounts of physical activity have been shown to be beneficial for mental health. Start with small, manageable goals, like taking a 20-minute walk every day. As you build up your fitness level, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.

4. Make it Social

Exercise doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Grab a friend or family member and make it a group affair! Not only does exercising with others make it more fun, but it also provides an extra layer of accountability and motivation.

5. Mix it Up

Variety is the spice of life, right? Keep things interesting by mixing up your workouts. Try different activities to challenge your body and prevent boredom. One day you might go for a swim, the next you might try a kickboxing class. The possibilities are endless!

It’s important to note that while exercise is beneficial for mental health, it’s not a substitute for professional treatment. In addition to incorporating exercise into their routine, people experiencing mental health difficulties may need extra support from mental health professionals.

Article supplied with thanks to The Centre for Effective Living.

Feature image: Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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