Workouts. What’s the right amount for mental health?
Fitness. We know it makes a difference to our mental health, cardiovascular health, mindset, waistbands, and the number we see on the scales. And yet, how many of us still struggle to consistently work out?
Regular exercise is a powerful way to fight seasonal depression, especially if you can exercise outside in natural daylight. Regular exercise can boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. In fact, exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. But exactly how much is the right amount to help with mental health? And what type of exercise?
‘If more information were the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.’ Derek Sivers
So if more information is not the answer, how can you set yourself up to exercise consistently while feeling meh during those oh so cold & dark days when Netflix is calling?
1# Focus on what you want to do and what you enjoy.
2# When you exercise, celebrate every single second as a win.
Stop with the endless self-defeating mind-chatter berating yourself, saying stuff like I’m not doing enough or not good enough.
One minute of exercise for mental well-being is better than no minutes, especially when repeated; just saying.
What do you enjoy? Make a list.
Pick the exercise types you enjoy and which are the easiest to get started with right away—especially if you already have all the equipment you need, such as workout clothes and shoes. Focus on what is easy and fun, on what you want to do and removing any barriers which could get in the way.
Here are some ideas to get you started ⤵
Hip Hop Dancing
Morning Sober Raves
I like to work out from home in winter. I can roll out of bed, and I don’t need to go out into the freezing air or rain to get my workout done. That way, I’ve removed the barriers which could stop me.
Pro tip: Put your exercise gear on a hanger/hook behind the bathroom door each evening and your workout shoes. Set an alarm to remind you to prep if you need to. That way, when you wake up and pee first thing in the morning, you’ll see your clothes. Strip right then and there & get into those workout clothes and shoes before your brain has the time to stop you and tell you you don’t feel like it. You’re just the kind of person who always gets set up the night before and gets their kit on first thing. Even 5-minutes at home each day will change your life & mental fortitude in the long run and how you see yourself.
GET SOCIAL WITH YOUR EXERCISE
Research shows those who do aerobic or gym classes, cycling, RPM classes, dance classes, and team sports report 20% fewer poor mental health days per month than those who don’t. That is 6 fewer days a month of feeling like poop just caz you got social with your exercise. But wait, there’s more!
You can do group & social fitness from the comfort of your own home if you still prefer virtual to IRL: Here’s how:
Right now, I’m obsessed with and using ⤵
Les Mills On Demand: Try 30 Days Free
My favourites are RPM (Spin Class) + Body Pump. It feels like you’re there!
Other stuff I’ve used in the past & enjoyed
Peloton App: You don’t need to own a Peloton bike; just any spin bike will do; it is sooooooo fun; I love the Peloton App
Kinrgy: Dance & Energy Healing. Super feel good.
Action Jacqueline Get Stretchy App or her YouTube if you’re looking for a free version.
THE IDEAL TYPE OF EXERCISE
Studies show that high-intensity exercise is generally more effective than low-intensity for our mental & emotional health. Cardio exercise, in particular, is strongly associated with reducing depression. But what if you’re like me, have a bit of an injury, are pregnant, or need to do low-intensity for whatever reason? Activities like yoga and tai chi help reduce symptoms of anxiety & depression. Also, walking for 15 minutes or more, especially in nature, can work wonders.
The optimal fitness regime? Alternate strength training with cardio exercise, as this combination delivers greater mental health benefits than either one alone.
Three decades of science make it clear: exercise should be integrated into the prevention and treatment of mental illness and the promotion of mental wellness. Routinely moving our bodies is a key element in the ecosystem of factors that help us build our mental and emotional well-being. Whether pumping iron, owning the treadmill, strengthening the core with yoga or tai chi, or less rigorous activities such as walking or household chores, motion is indisputably associated with mental health benefits.
Learn more by reading this Move Your Mental Health™ Report.
👇 KEY LEARNINGS
• A combo of strength and cardio training is best
• 30- to 45-minute workouts three to five times a week are ideal
• Focus on what you want to do, what you enjoy and remove any barriers that could get in the way. Also, make it social when you can.
The tiniest changes can make the biggest difference when repeated consistently over time. All week I’ve been writing about Seasonal Affective Disorder and one thing you can learn about and implement each day to combat it. Today, it’s day four: adding fitness. This one is HUUUGGGEELY IMPORTANT.