Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, sad, anxious or or just plain blah? Sometimes those feelings make us just want to say no to our workout or walk. But here are 5 reasons to say yes and move your body to move your mind to a new perspective.
Stop Negative Self Talk
The act of focusing on the exercises can give you a mental break from a repeating concern, worry or negative message you’re sending yourself. Choosing to use weights or doing something where you need to count repetitions can be an effective way to shift your attention even more effectively.
Stress creates both physiological and neurological changes in our body, flooding our systems with hormones so that we can defend against the stress with flight or fight responses. Exercise which causes blood to flow, oxygen exchange and cells to use energy ALSO help us process and eliminate the excess hormones which is necessary to complete the stress cycle.
Feed Your Brain
It’s good for the brain. A March 2018 article from Psychology Today title “How Your Mental Health Reaps the Benefits of Exercise” reports that exercise “increases the volume of certain brain regions - in part by better blood supply that improves neuronal health by improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients; and through an increase in neurotrophic factors and neurohormones that support neuron signaling, growth, and connections.” Reduced neurogenesis is one area of investigation and research in mental health illness and our ability for mental flexibility.
Lift Your Mood
It can impact our mood. Regular exercise can release feel-good hormones like endorphins. Most studies suggest that moderate exercise is important here, no need to do a 5K or an hour high intensity spin class to get the benefit. The mood enhancing effect of exercise can begin as early as 5 minutes into the activity.
If you suffer from anxiety, exercise may help you cope with the physical signals of anxiety. In an article titled “The exercise effect” from the American Psychological Association researchers looked at the physical reactions to anxiety (heart racing, sweating, dizziness for example) which often create fear for the person experiencing them. The experiments had some test subjects participate in a 2-week exercise program. Those who did showed improvement in anxiety sensitivity, they learned “to associate the symptoms with safety instead of danger” according to the study leaders.
Keeping an exercise log or journal is one way to provide motivation when you’re feeling like you want to skip it. Rather than documenting your solely performance data (pace, distance, or weight lifted for example), make a note of how you feel before and after each workout. You might note the specific feelings you had before and after or you can make a mood scale 1 = negative/worry/anxious mood 5= I feel amazing mood (for example).
Do this even when you have the motivation, so that on the days you don’t - you can pull it out and read your own, personal evidence that 1) you’ve felt this way before and 2) you feel better when you get active.
Fitness is so much more than how we look, its about how we feel - not just in our bodies but in our heads too! In my humble opinion, it is the ultimate self-care. If you need help getting started or staying motivated, please reach out! You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.