Planting the Exercise Seed – Moving for Mental Health

How to get started with your health journey

It’s something you’ve tried before, and every now and again it crosses your mind. You’ve been told it’s good for you and your mental wellbeing (and you get why), but that (as well as not knowing the best way to move for you, not knowing where to start, busy diaries…) doesn’t seem to be enough to get you out the door to exercise.

We know how effective exercise can be for helping with mental health (amongst all other areas of health), however often the issue is planting that seed and following through on your exercise plans. Because (let’s face it) exercise can suck if you don’t know what you are doing and if it’s been a little while since you gave it a go.

To help get that seed planted we have a few things we can focus on. Grab a pen and paper and try the following:

1)  Think of something you enjoy

Think back to some forms of exercise you have done in the past. Did you take any particular enjoyment from them? Are there any types of exercise you’ve thought of trying, but just haven’t got around to? If not, how about general activities that you enjoy? It doesn’t have to be hard, it just has to be movement, and can be as simple as a 10-minute walk to go and grab a coffee with a friend. Take the scenic route, or try the coffee shop 3 streets away!

Finding tasks we like can help keep us on track, and can be a great gateway to starting some regular movement.

Think of 3 types of exercise or activities you think you could commit a small amount of time to a few times per week, and write them down.

2) Consider some small progressions

Getting started with a program doesn’t have to be difficult. If all you can commit to or manage is 5-10 minutes of something gentle, then great! What matters is that you’re up, moving, and thinking about it. Once the first few activities you try start feeling more and more achievable, try making them a bit harder by adding time, intensity or frequency throughout the week. The first few weeks will be a great experiment to see how you go, and where your exercise tolerance is.

From the types of exercise you identified above, think of and write down a few small progressions you could make once you’re used to the exercise. It doesn’t have to be much – It could be as simple as making the activity longer, more frequent or faster/more intense.

3)  Have a look at where it could fit in your routine

To help keep you on track it is always best to have a small degree of structure and priority. However much or little (and where it sits on your priority list) is totally up to you. Want to commit to a walk 2 times per week on your free afternoons? Great! Need more specificity? Try having a quick look at your schedule and finding chunks of time to book in for movement breaks or exercise time.

All that it needs to be is achievable for you.

Look at your schedule for the upcoming weeks and pencil in some times to try some of the exercise you thought of above.

4)  Jot down a few friends or family members that might come with you

Exercise doesn’t have to feel like exercise when you are moving with a friend! Make an easy commitment with someone you know and trust, perhaps someone who also wants some help getting moving. The science shows that exercising with someone can help with motivation and retention.

Have a think about someone you could call on to try some movement with. Maybe shot a quick text or phone call

5)  Make it important to you

Finally, the last step is to relate movement and exercise and its importance to you and your health. Whether it be to directly improve your mental health and wellbeing, or if it is to get out and get back to activities you love, finding something you think exercise might help you with can help keep you motivated.

Jot down a few reasons why starting some exercise today would help you. Include some things you’d love to be able to do or get back to for extra benefit and motivation.

Still a bit stuck?

That’s okay, and totally normal.

To help get you up and moving, sometimes reaching out to an expert in the field can assist you in finding your motivation and the right type of exercise for you, and can be excellent in relieving some anxieties and stress that is blocking that first step forwards.

An exercise physiologist is an expert at prescribing exercise. We understand that it can seem daunting and work hard to come up with a program specifically for you to get you heading in the right direction. We find a way to move that works for you!

If you’d like to meet one of our Exercise Physiologists to see what we can do for you, book in for a FREE road mapping session at the link below.

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