Studio 5 Contributor and therapist, Julie Hanks shares why exercise is good for your mental health and gives solutions to your exercise excuses.
Exercise and fitness have been on my mind lately. As a faithful watcher of The Biggest Loser’s inspiring stories of overcoming personal hardship to reclaim health and fitness I’m looking forward to the show’s season premiere next Tues. Popular health guru Dr. Oz launched his “Just 10” challenge earlier this week, encouraging viewers to reduce heart disease by 50% & diabetes by 60% & arthritis by 50% by losing 10 lbs. The health benefits of physical activity are well-known, but you may not be aware of the significant mental health benefits of moving your body.
Exercise Improves Your Mental Health by:
Researchers at Duke University found that exercise is as effective as antidepressant medication for treating depression.
University of Georgia study found exercise to be effective at reducing anxiety symptoms.
Exercise may stimulate areas of the brain responsible for age-related memory loss.
Exercise may help the body’s systems practice dealing with stress.
Physical exercise has been shown to improve physical self-concept.
In my therapy practice I’ve often “prescribed” exercise to clients as a means to improve their mood, decrease anxiety, and manage stress levels and I’ve heard all kinds of excuses as to why clients can’t/don’t/won’t exercise. I’ve also used all of these same excuses in my own life at one time or another. Few of us are able to spend several months in a fitness camp, like The Biggest Loser contestants, but all of us can lose our excuses and learn to make exercise a priority for our physical and mental health. Here are some solutions to common exercise excuses.
Solutions to Common Exercise Excuses:
“I don’t have time”
Solution: Build it into your Schedule
Make your personal physical self-care a priority by putting it on your calendar. I recently hired a personal trainer and her available times are in the middle of the day – a time I have never exercised because I don’t want to be sweaty the rest of the day. I have worked through that and show up at my scheduled times because it’s on my schedule.
“I don’t have motivation”
Solution: Buddy system
Exercise with a partner or friend. Find someone who is relying on you to join them in exercising and will hold you accountable. The social aspect of exercise also has benefits for emotional health.
“I don’t have anyone to watch my kids”
Solution: Exercise with family
When you take your child to soccer practice bring your walking shoes and walk around the field for an hour. Put your baby in the stroller and stroll around the block. Find an activity that you can enjoy with your children. Consider joining a recreation center that provides child care. Baby sit swap with a neighbor.
“I don’t have the money to buy a gym membership or workout gear”
Solution: Choose free activities
Walking and hiking are great free activities that only require shoes. Also, check with your local recreation center for low cost or free activity options in your community.
For additional self-improvement & relationship resources connect with me at www.juliehanks.com. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn about my therapy clinic and individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family!