By Catherine Nitelet-Vedder, Wellness Educator
The current mainstream says that exercise generally improves a person’s physical health and appearance, slims the figure, invigorates and rejuvenates while extending lifespan. But exercise is also a powerful medicine with many benefits for mental health issues. Even in small amounts, physical activity can really impact your mood, mental clarity, and ability to overcome the pressures and challenges of life…
Addressing Common Reasons People Don’t Exercise
Even when you see the benefits of exercise, overcoming inactivity is a challenge, and maintaining a regular exercise program is a commitment. On top of that, when you’re feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, etc. it can feel even more difficult. Regular physical activity has a positive effect on mood and could serve as a preventive measure against a deterioration in body and mental health.
Exercise significantly reduces anxiety in people with normal or high levels of anxiety. Exercise can restore a state of mindfulness in anxious people and burn off excess energy that leads to insomnia. Pay attention to how your feet feel when running or walking; focus on your breathing to meditate while moving. Anxious thoughts can break the calm, but exercise can interrupt the constant flow of worry. With regular practice, you may find it easier to deal with the onset of anxious thoughts.
It can feel like a weighted blanket that drives a person deeper into inaction and passivity. Promise yourself a brisk five-minute walk. Add something like music or a podcast you like and let your mind wander. Chances are that once you get moving, you’ll end up walking longer.
Exhaustion might seem like another good reason to put off exercising, because expending more energy will only deplete what little energy we have left, right? However, physical activity is a powerful energizer, and studies show that exercising regularly can significantly reduce fatigue and boost your energy levels.
Chronic or acute pain:
Chronic or acute pain is a more serious medical reason for not exercising. If the problem stems from a disability, being overweight, arthritis, or any mobility-limiting injury, ask your doctor for safe exercise recommendations. Shorter exercise sessions or more gentle, low-impact activities could be solutions.
Too busy with the kids:
Finding time to exercise around the kids’ schedules is sometimes a challenge, but there may be ways to include them, whether it’s running with a stroller, riding a bike with them or doing some family yoga in the living room. Exercising with kids can get a little chaotic at times, but remember that they need to adopt these healthy habits too, and as a parent, you are their number one influencer.
Exercising regularly boosts the immune system, reduces the impact of stress and stimulates the growth of new brain cells, which helps prevent age-related cognitive decline. But exercise does not replace prescription drugs or psychotherapy so consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Working out can nevertheless alleviate symptoms, improve the effectiveness of medications, and even help an anxious or worried mind to maintain good habits.
Always consult with your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program or if it’s been a while and if you have questions or concerns. Remember a little bit can go a long way!