Developing a Healthy Relationship with Exercise to Boost Mental Health

Exercise is a powerful tool to optimize your mental health. When one commits to exercising regularly, the physical benefits that come with it automatically go hand in hand with the benefits for psychological health. Exercising consistently not only results in a healthier body, but also promotes better mental health. However, it is important for individuals to develop a healthy relationship with exercise in order to successfully leverage its benefits. In this blog post, we will outline some essential tips to help you develop a positive relationship with exercise for improved mental health.

Start Slow and Steady

Starting slow and steady is crucial in building a healthy relationship with exercise. Often, people tend to dive into exercise quickly, which can ultimately lead to burnout and a negative association with exercise. Begin with easy exercises such as walking, cycling, or swimming. Gradually increase the amount of exercise time while assessing how your body responds to it. Doing this will allow you to build a steady pace and rhythm that is safe and manageable.

Listen to Your Body

It is important to listen to your body and to respect its limits when developing a healthy relationship with exercise. It is essential to understand that everyone’s body is different and has different needs. Pain or discomfort is your body signaling to you that it is time to slow down or take a break. Being mindful of your body and what it is telling you will prevent overexertion and help avoid injury.

Exercise with a Purpose

Having a purposeful mindset when it comes to exercising is key in developing a healthy relationship with it. Instead of exercising with the sole intention of burning calories or losing weight, try exercising with the intention of boosting your mood, reducing stress, and increasing focus. Recognize that exercise is not only beneficial for your body, but also for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Understanding this will help you make the most of exercise’s potential in enhancing your mental state.

Exercise is a Privilege, not a Punishment

It is not uncommon to slip into an unhealthy relationship with exercise.  Instead of viewing exercise as a “necessary evil” to “fix” ourselves, strive to view exercise for the positives: We chose to exercise to so that we DO the things we want to do, whether it be as mundane as loading our winter tires into our car or carrying water-softener salt into the basement, or as exotic as hiking to a remote waterfall while on vacation in the Caribbean.

Create a Support System

Building a strong support system is fundamental to developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with exercise. This system could be made up of friends, family, or a professional fitness coach. Having reliable and supportive people around you can provide motivation, accountability, and reinforcement as you navigate your fitness journey.

Find Activities You Enjoy

Lastly, finding activities that you genuinely enjoy doing is important in building a positive relationship with exercise. Whether it’s exploring the great outdoors with a jog or dance class, practicing yoga, or weight lifting, finding the exercise that you enjoy the most will help you maintain a consistent schedule.

Exercise has enormous potential in supporting mental health, but it is important to develop a healthy relationship with it first. By starting slow and steady, listening to your body, exercising with a purpose, creating a support system, and finding activities you enjoy, you can successfully integrate exercise into your life for a happier and healthier you. Remember, the relationship you build with exercise should be positive, sustainable, and most importantly, enjoyable.

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