So many of us carry negative mental associations with exercise: thanks to many years of punishing ourselves with gruelling fad diets and brutal workouts in an effort to lose weight.
But exercise is definitely not a punishment. It’s actually a wonderful celebration of the powerful things our bodies can do – including raising our mood.
We at Agility Rehabilitation want to help reshape the way you think about exercise, so you can grow your self-confidence and flourish thanks to the transformational benefits to your mental (and physical) health.
So let’s get started, shall we!
Putting less focus on weight loss
The results from last year’s Australia Talks National Survey showed that 60 per cent of Australians were currently trying to lose weight. For many people, this is the main or only motivation to exercise.
And here is where the problem lies, because exercise can quickly start being seen/used as punishment for eating that piece of birthday cake, or indulging in a latte. After all, you’ve got to burn off those extra kilojoules, right?
Thinking you have to “burn off” your lunch or the occasional dessert with a punishing jog or HIIT workout is the quickest way to develop an unhealthy – and unsustainable – relationship with physical activity.
Exercise should be your happy place. A place for calm, fun and freeflowing endorphins. It should make you feel joy at being alive!
Exercise is guaranteed to lift your mood
Who doesn’t want to be happy! It’s what we all strive for, right!
Well here’s the thing, when it comes to happiness, what many people forget is the often overlooked natural medicine (and it’s free) known as exercise.
That’s right! Exercise is one of the most powerful ways to boost your mental health. When we exercise, the body undergoes a complex chemical change – releasing a powerful barrage of neurotransmitters throughout your nervous system and most importantly, your brain. These are endorphins, endocannabinoids and dopamine.
Endorphins work to increase sensations of pleasure, while also blocking pain, reducing stress and anxiety, as well as protecting against depression and inflammation. And you know that powerful rush people experience after a big workout? Recent research suggests that comes from your endorphins and endocannabinoids teaming up to work in tandem (endocannabinoids are the neurotransmitters thought to cause the runner’s high).
Then there’s the dopamine – another pleasure neurotransmitter – which also regulates your mood, sleep, motivation, heart rate, pain processing, attention and learning. Mix these three together in a neurotransmitter surge,
For those living with mental health conditions, exercise can be an important part of your management plan. When combined with medications, exercise can significantly improve depression, PTSD and schizophrenia outcomes.
You want to aim for 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise throughout the week. And you want to be enjoying aerobic exercise – which includes walking, running, yoga, tai chi, swimming, cycling, dancing, most team sports and martial arts. These are the best exercises to get those feelgood neurotransmitters flooding your body.
Resistance training – which also boosts mental health and muscle strength – is great to incorporate into your weekly activities.
Whatever you choose, make sure that it’s something you enjoy doing. You want to be having fun, celebrating your body and looking forward to your next workout.
If motivation is an issue, ask a friend to become a training buddy or take part in team sports. The social connections are great in themselves for mental health and the accountability will keep you engaged.
If you’re keen to get started but have an existing injury, chronic pain, condition or mental health concerns, some expert advice is always a great starting point.
Our team of expert and empathic Agility Rehabilitation Exercise Physiologists are here to help you move safely toward your goals.
You can contact us here
, or call (08) 6162 8145