Do you know the real benefits of exercise and the effect it has on mental health?

If you don’t then this article will help you understand those benefits and may also give you ideas about how you can make exercise a consistent part of your life. 

The thing is you probably already know that exercise is great for losing weight, toning up and increasing your fitness but did you know how effective it can be as a method of dealing with mental health?

Inside Seven Movement we know many of our members suffer from anxiety, depression, stress and other forms of mental health but we also don’t stigmatise it, we often have our own community sharing how they feel in an environment that is very safe for them.

I recently read something that said if exercise was a pill it would be the most frequently prescribed medicine by doctors. Isn’t that interesting? Exercise is something we can all do, every day, free of charge, anywhere we like. So why is it that so many people don’t do any exercise at all?

Let me share with you an important point about exercise and how you view it. You see, if you think that you ‘should’ exercise or ‘need to’ exercise for reasons like losing weight, then you might be missing the bigger picture and you could be fighting against something you don’t need to.

Many people exercise mainly because of how it makes them feel, they feel happier, less stressed, les anxious, they have more energy, they sleep better, they have a sharper mind and it helps them stay positive or just have better moods.

When you view exercise through this lens, you start valuing it so much more. It becomes less about something you feel you have to do, and more like something you want to do because of how it benefits you.

10th October marks World Mental Health Day, so let me share with you some ideas on how to increase your physical activity and feel the benefits of exercise.

When we say exercise or physical activity, what do we mean?

Basically this is any movement of your body that uses muscles and expends energy. The good news for you is that the options are endless. 

There are many different ways to exercise: 

1.Increase your Daily Physical Activity

  • Take the stairs
  • Walk to the shops
  • Do more physical chores like gardening
  • Do your cleaning as fast as you can
  • Walk the long way round

2.Exercise (purposeful planned exercise)

  • Walk for 10 minutes
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Go for a jog
  • Go swimming
  • Do a group exercise class
  • Walk the dog
  • Go to the gym

3.Play (unstructured activity that is done for fun)

  • Play football with the kids
  • Play games like twister 
  • Play video games on the Xbox that involve movement
  • Join a sports club
  • Play any sport for fun

The most important part of this is recognising that exercise is an important part of your life. 

I tell my members all the time you don’t want to think I ‘need’ to go to the gym, you should feel like I ‘want’ to go to the gym.

This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes perseverance and hard work to build the habit but you have to switch that mindset around and view exercise as something you can’t do without. 

These are just a few ideas, but maybe you already know this. Maybe you just don’t know where to start.

So what should you do next?

Overcoming barriers:

You might currently feel anxious about starting something new, this is perfectly normal.

  •  Start small and don’t over commit
  • A 10 minute walk each day could make all the difference
  • Ask a friend to exercise with you
  • Find workouts on YouTube that you can do at home
  • Find a gym that will make you feel welcome

Make time:

  • Plan your exercise in advance – what day and what time will you exercise?
  • Move things around in your week to accommodate your new regime
  • Sacrifice some other activity, like watching TV, that doesn’t necessarily serve you well

Make sure it’s right for you: 

  • You need to find something you enjoy
  • If you hate running, then don’t run. If you don’t like swimming, don’t swim. There’s no right or wrong way to exercise
  • It has to fit with your busy lifestyle. Don’t try to take on more than you can commit to.

Make it part of your lifestyle:

  • Do things every day to be more active
  • Find activities at the weekend that are more active
  • Change unhealthy habits like going to the pub on a Friday night and replace it with doing exercise you’ll enjoy

At Seven Movement, we are very passionate about helping people become fitter and healthier, but not just physically, mentally as well. Really feel the benefits of exercise by doing a 30 minute class at Seven Movement, and find out what an incredibly supportive community we have. 

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