Movement that will motivate
How to stay positive about exercise.
Everyone knows how important exercise and movement is for the body, how it is a driving force of health, how good it can be for reducing stress and anxiety, (1–3) and how it can even boost our immune system to help fight and prevent infections. (4–6)
Finding the right type of exercise can sort of be like finding the right type of practitioner for you. It may take a couple of tries with different types of movement before you find the right fit. Not everybody likes high-intensity, high-impact cardio exercise that leaves you breathless (and a little in pain!), just like not everyone likes yin yoga and balancing of the mind and body. Some people love to exercise out in nature, while others enjoy a gym atmosphere. That’s not to say that these types of exercise are right, or wrong. They might not be the right type for you.
Photo credit: Madison Lavern
The best way to find out what is the right type of exercise is to try a class at a gym or find a video on YouTube if you find the idea of going to the gym too confronting. Try doing the exercise for five minutes. If you like it, then you can continue, and if you don’t then you have only invested five minutes into it. It’s still five minutes of exercise that you have done that day that you normally wouldn’t have.
If you have any pre-existing injuries, then just make sure you let the instructor know beforehand so that they can adjust the exercises for you and not make you feel inadequate for not being able to do something. Feelings of inadequacy or just not feeling comfortable can cause people to walk out of classes or not return. Showing up to a class is a huge deal for some people, everyone should be comfortable enough to want to come back and stay positive about exercise. Try not to compare your ability or “fitness” to other people, especially when some people may have been doing it for a while. Lowering your expectations of yourself can help you improve in your own time. This can also significantly reduce your risk of injury when trying new forms of exercise.
Photo credit: Anupam Mahapatra
Finding someone to exercise with is a great way to stay motivated and continue a regular exercise routine long term. Spending time with a friend has the added bonus of relieving stress and exercising together means motivating each other to get moving, especially on those cold and dark days when you’d prefer to stay in bed. Knowing that you have someone to meet and exercise with always helps to give you the nudge you need to get moving.
Your body and mind always thank you later!
Other ways of getting exercise into your everyday routine is through incidental exercise. Some of my favourite ways of incorporating incidental exercise are doing things like getting off the train/bus a stop early and walking to wherever it is I need to be going; parking further away at the shops or taking the stairs instead of the lifts or escalators.
Photo credit: Bruno Nascimento
Remember, you don’t have to burn yourself out with exercise to feel the benefits of it. There is research to suggest that ten minutes of exercise a few times a day is just as beneficial as doing one hour at a time. (7)Just enjoy being outside to start with and work your way up to longer stints when you have the energy and capacity to do so.
- Stults-Kolehmainen MA, Sinha R. The effects of stress on physical activity and exercise. Sport Med [Internet]. 2014;44(1):81–121. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3894304/pdf/nihms-524273.pdf
- Jackson E. STRESS RELIEF: The Role of Exercise in Stress Management. ACSM’s Heal Fit J [Internet]. 2013;17(3):14–9. Available from: https://dev-journals2013.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2013/05000/STRESS_RELIEF__The_Role_of_Exercise_in_Stress.6.aspx#pdf-link
- Anderson E, Shivakumar G. Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety. Front Psychiatry [Internet]. 2013;4(April):10–3. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632802/pdf/fpsyt-04-00027.pdf
- Flynn MG, McFarlin BK, Markofski MM. The anti-inflammatory actions of exercise training. Am J Lifestyle Med [Internet]. 2007;1(3):220–35. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4243532/pdf/nihms594586.pdf
- Woods JA, Wilund KR, Martin SA, Kistler BM. Exercise, inflammation and aging. Aging Dis [Internet]. 2012;3(1):130–40. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22500274%0Ahttp://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=PMC3320801
- Dimitrov S, Hulteng E, Hong S. Inflammation and exercise: Inhibition of monocytic intracellular TNF production by acute exercise via β2-adrenergic activation. Brain Behav Immun [Internet]. 2017;61:60–8. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2016.12.017
- Stork MJ, Gibala MJ, Martin Ginis KA. Psychological and Behavioral Responses to Interval and Continuous Exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc [Internet]. 2018;50(10):2110–21. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2018/10000/Psychological_and_Behavioral_Responses_to_Interval.16.aspx
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