We all lose our exercise mojo from time to time. Sometimes life takes over and our focus shifts leaving little space to even contemplate maintaining a regular exercise routine.
Does this sound like you? Maybe these things can help.
Our priorities are often given a stiff kick when we have an approaching holiday, or some big event where we’d like to lose a few pounds, but research tells us this shouldn’t be our only focus to getting active.
Mental Health (thankfully) is a much more openly talked about these days. We lead busy lives, stress or anxiety can manifest from a myriad of sources and if left unchecked….well all know what can happen.
How can exercise help?
Exercise is a great way of letting of steam, regaining focus and generally increasing your energy levels, but it can also help to improve your mental health.
It also helps to exercise barefoot too. With nothing on your feet (or a pair of Vibram FiveFingers) your nervous system is more active. This can help focus your attention on the task at hand. When things are more 'comfortable' it's easier to lose focus and let our minds wander.
According to Mental Health Foundation UK there are many studies to prove exercise can help.
- Physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on our moods immediately after exercise.
- Participants felt more content, more awake and calmer after being physically active.
- Mood lifted the greatest when the mood was initially lower.
- Many studies look at different intensity levels and it impact on mood. Low intensity aerobic exercise for 30-35 minutes 3-5 days for 10-12 weeks was best at increasing positive moods
- Long term stresses like anxiety, sleep disruption or pressures at home or work can lead to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. This releases fat and sugar into our blood to boost our energy.
- Physical exercise can be very effective in relieving the conditions associated with stress and research indicates that individuals who are more active have lower stress levels.
Improved self esteemExercise has been shown to improve self-esteem (how we feel about ourselves) and feeling of worth. It’s not surprising really. You're basically giving yourself a mental pat on the back for doing something positive for your physical health. Taking control of your own path can be very empowering.
Impact on depression and anxiety
- Physical activity can be used to treat depression. This can be used stand alone or combined with medication.
- Exercise has few side effects and does not carry the same stigma as some people perceive to be attached to medication or counselling.
- Being active and exercising is easily accessible to all and relatively cheap.
What are you waiting for?
It's time to look after your mental wellbeing and exercise really can help. Plus there's the added benefit of physical health improvements.
So here's our list of ideas that can make 'getting back on the wagon' a little easier.
- Go for a walk in the country and enjoy the scenery.
- Set yourself realistic goals (trackers and exercise apps can help with this).
- Get help from a friend or relative who may like to exercise with you. Accountability can be a strong factor in maintaining a routine.
- Track your progress. What you do tomorrow will be better than what you did yesterday and that helps to keep you motivated.
Take the plunge and try it barefoot
Moving in Vibram FiveFingers engages more of the muscles and nerves in our feet and lower limbs. No matter how you are moving, doing it barefoot can help in a myriad of ways.
- If you're running in Vibram FiveFingers for the first time or after a break, we suggest following the couch to 5K. This enables your feet to adjust and should be a great way to gently increase your aerobic fitness levels in a measured way.
- Ditch the shoes completely when working out at home or in a safe environment. Really get to grips with using your feet again and moving how nature intended.
- Most of all enjoy
For more advice on mental health visit www.Mentalhealth.org.uk