Exercise is defined as an activity that requires physical effort to sustain or improve health and fitness. Though many may see exercise as daunting, time-consuming, and otherwise demanding, anyone can do exercise in so many enjoyable, meaningful and purposeful ways! It’s easy to see how exercise can change a person. However, it can be beneficial to not only physical health but mental health as well. There have been numerous and varied studies on how exercise can be beneficial to one’s mental health. With the toll of COVID being felt personally and having a noticeable general impact on an increase in anger, boredom, and frustration (Brooks et al., 2020), it is extra important than ever to be proactive in dealing with these feelings. Research suggests that exercising has a direct correlation with improving cognitive health, reducing depression as well as helping better manage anxiety (Ruegsegger & Booth, 2021).
Where to begin?
It’s easy to find yourself exercising somehow during the day; however, formulating a routine or fitness plan may prove beneficial in maintaining consistency and motivation. To start, think of some activities that you may enjoy. These can range from highly demanding activities to leisurely nature walks, allowing for most fitness levels to engage in some way. Don’t be afraid to set some goals. These do not have to be life-altering but can be small and personal, like walking for 10 minutes longer than the previous month, for example. These goals can gauge growth and maybe that kick we need when we don’t feel like getting up! The last thing to do is get out there and enjoy! If you find yourself tiring of a routine, feel free to explore new activities and interests! This could be trying a new activity entirely or simply taking a walk at a new location.
With vaccinations being offered for some time now, we are slowly returning to normalcy. This is the perfect opportunity to reach out to friends in a conscious way and invite them to join in! Having others will add support, with findings suggesting that increased social contact can amplify the health benefits of exercise (Burke et al., 2006) and serve to make activities more enjoyable (though activities can be just as fun alone). This group setting can help us reconnect with missed friends after the trying times recently experienced.
– Floyd, Behavioral Supports Specialist
Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S.,Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence. Lancet, 395, 912–920.
Burke, S. M., Carron, A. V., Eys, M. A., Ntoumanis, N., & Estabrooks, P. A. (2006).
Group versus individual approach? A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity.
Sport and Exercise Psychology Review, 2, 19–35
Ruegsegger G.N., Booth F.W.
Health Benefits of Exercise. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2018 Jul 2;8(7):a029694. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a029694. PMID: 28507196; PMCID: PMC6027933.