Exercise is one of the best ways to stay physically and mentally fit! Engaging in moderate exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week, has been shown to improve self-esteem, reduce stress, increase energy levels and improve sleep. Exercise has been proven to help treat mild to moderate depression.
While you are exercising, your body releases pain-relieving endorphins – chemicals that help block pain and stress signals in the brain. These are the same chemicals that get released when you eat chocolate, fall in love, or have a belly laugh.
So, get out there and improve your mental and physical health with a new workout routine! However, before you start, ask yourself these questions:
What physical activities do I enjoy? Some people dislike dealing with the weather and others might not like a stuffy gym. Maybe you were on the swim team in high school or used to like an early morning jog. Finding several activities that you really enjoy doing is key so that you can keep it going over time and to avoid boredom.
Do I prefer group or individual activities? Some people get more energized by spending time alone, while others find companionship and accountability from joining a class or team sport. Choose the level of social interaction that is right for you.
What programs best fit my schedule? It’s important to consciously set aside time for exercise and to make it as convenient as possible so that it becomes a habit and not a chore. If you are a busy person, it’s possible that weekly housework and yardwork is enough to keep you moving. Those that like to relax in the evening might want to get exercise out of the way in the morning so they don’t miss their favorite evening activities.
Do I have physical conditions that limit my choice of exercise? Always consult a doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have a chronic medical condition like heart disease or diabetes. Swimming is considered one of the best low-impact exercises for people with joint pain or mobility issues. Walking can be just as beneficial as running. Although running may burn calories faster, walking has the same beneficial effects on muscle tone and bone strength.
What goals do I have in mind? Are you planning to lose weight? Gain strength and flexibility? Spend more time with your significant other? Being clear on your goals for exercise will help you to plan well and achieve your desired outcome.
Who can I partner with for support and encouragement? It’s important to set yourself up for success by building accountability into your plan. Just by telling your plan to a friend, you will be more likely to follow-through. Maybe you are too shy to join a class by yourself but would enjoy going to the class with a friend. There are also countless mobile apps that are designed to encourage you and track your progress toward your goal.
A little movement is a good way to help manage depression and help with your overall mental and physical wellbeing.