Another blog post about the benefits of physical exercise for mental health (and how to exercise more)

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Photo by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

Just in case you had any doubts regarding how beneficial exercise is for mental wellbeing, a simple search on Google for the benefits of exercise for mental health pulls up about 250,000,000 results.

Exercise is a powerful method for mantaining our mental wellbeing. It promotes changes in the brain that support neural growth, reduce inflammation, and create new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.

READ: The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise (PDF)

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A month or so ago, I had an experience that truly demonstrated the importance of exercise in boosting our mood.

After a long day of work, and feeling lethargic and mentally exhausted, I didn’t want to go to my kickboxing class. Although I wasn’t feeling very motivated, I convinced myself to go anyways because I knew missing a class wasn’t going to help the situation.

I knew if I stayed home, I would just be mindlessly browse the internet for distractions to pass the time and avoid negative feelings.

So, I went.

Afterwards, a friend of mine and I went to get groceries for dinner and I was pretty much bouncing through the aisles at the store and feeling upbeat in general. I felt energetic, lively and happy.

It was a complete mood shift, as if working out activated and switched on some feel-good hormone in my brain.

Wait a minute, that is exactly what exercising does for our brain!

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Most of us understand the benefits of exercise, and wish that we could incorporate it into our routine. One of the best realizations I’ve had has been understanding what my problem was with exercising.

The hardest, and most rewarding, aspect of exercise is figuring out the type of workout you enjoy. This will make working out, and life in general, less tedious.

I hate going to the gym. I have always hated going to the gym. I feel insecure about my form, what I’m doing, and so on.

Joining a fitness class changed all of that for me.

I found out I didn’t hate working out, I just hated working out at the gym. I actually really enjoy exercising, especially high-intensity workouts. I just need a class with an instructor, and all I need to do is show up and follow instructions.

For others, it might be dancing, a long walk, swimming, hiking, running, and so forth.

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How to motivate yourself

Once you find out the exercise you enjoy, the next step is motivating yourself to show up. There are two outcomes to keep in mind when you are deciding on whether to workout or not.

Chances that you will regret going to the gym or wherever to exercise is 0.001%, even if you run into your recent ex and their new extremly-attractive-and-super-friendly partner.

Chances that you will regret NOT exercising, and instead spending three hours scrolling through memes or stalking random strangers online, is at about 300%.

Choose wisely.

That’s how I motivate myself for the most part. Sometimes I choose the latter and 98% of the time, I end up regretting it. If I choose wisely, I come home feeling upbeat and happy 99% of the time.

It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

Find a workout you enjoy, and carefully consider your two options whenever you are having internal debate about going for a workout or not.

And, whenever you need a little convincing, watch this: WHY Exercise is so Underrated (Brain Power & Movement Link)

Happy exercising!

Until next time… 🙂

 

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