5 Mental Health Exercise Tips Worth Following

5 Mental Health Exercise Tips Worth Following
5 Mental Health Exercise Tips Worth Following

SecondExercise can be a powerful tool for maintaining and improving your mental health — just ask the science. recently published in British Journal of Sports Medicineone of the largest studies on the topic to date, found that regular exercise is effective in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety.

But not all exercise is created equal, and some are better for your mental health than others. Plus, exercise may negatively impact mental health, especially when it’s related to exercise addiction.

So how do you make sure your workouts are good for your body and mind? Grace Albin, a Pilates instructor and personal trainer with a passion for optimizing workouts for your mental health, shares her best mental health workout tips below.

5 Mental Health Workout Tips Coaches Swear By

Tip 1: Find what works for you

Getting the most mental health benefits from exercise means doing it consistently. Finding an activity you actually enjoy can help with this, says Albin, and sports psychologists agree.Jamie Shapiro, an associate professor of exercise psychology at the University of Denver, has previously stated that it can increase your intrinsic motivation, or doing something for inner satisfaction rather than external recognition or reward. good+good.

You’ll know when you get the movement right, says Albin. It’ll make you feel good and look forward to, not “another chore on your to-do list,” she says. “It should be something you do, not something you have to do.”

One workout probably won’t boost your mental health forever — and if you feel like you’re starting to feel bored or unsatisfied, make a switch, says Albin. Just don’t overthink it and go with your gut: “Thinking too much can actually be counterproductive,” she says. “Exercising is a time for intuition rather than over-spirituality.”

Overall, science shows that low-stress exercise tends to be best for your mental health, but again, this varies from person to person. The goal is to find something that gets you excited without making you end up feeling overly excited.

Tip 2: Be selfish with your workout time

In order for your workouts to benefit your mind and body, make sure this is a time that actually works for you. Resist the temptation to make it a multitasking activity, whether it’s walking the dog or pushing a stroller on a run, or listening to work-related podcasts, says Albin. Trying to do the most can increase the stress level of a workout, which can undermine what it means for your mental health. “Exercise has a huge impact on stress management,” psychologist Darren Lumbard, who works with athletes at Atlantic Sports Health, previously told good+good. “But if we feel the pressure [multitasking], we fight against the positive effects of movement. “

Instead, Albin says, your workout time should be multisensory, “whether you’re listening to a playlist you actually love or taking a walk in the park that you love to watch,” Albin says. “I guarantee you’ll have more energy that day, and you’ll feel like you were an hour more productive.”

Proponents of multisensory exercises say they add to the mental (and physical) health benefits by helping you keep your mind sharp. “Research shows that we tend to perform better when our minds are in the moment and our senses are focused,” Justin Anderson, sports psychologist and founder of Premier Sport Psychology in Minneapolis, previously told good+good“You have a particular video, song, or energy that’s being transmitted—it’s an emotion that helps drive energy to harness and focus on the workout at hand.”

Also don’t sacrifice what you need to exercise for social reasons, says Albin — maybe you feel pressured to do a Zumba workout because that’s what your friends do, for example, but what you’d really rather be doing is yoga . “You get the physical benefit because you go to class and move your body, but you don’t get the mental benefit because that’s not what your body told you to do that day,” Albin said.

Tip 3: Create a designated movement space

If you’re exercising at home, create a space (even if it’s small!) that will help keep your spirits up. “For some people, electronic music is kind of a dark, traditional spin vibe,” says Albin. “For some, it’s super bright, sunny, and you have candles, and it’s like a spa.” Small choices like lighting and music can set the tone for a workout that rejuvenates the mind and body.

Tip 4: Keep it Simple

But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money on fancy gym equipment or products. In fact, Albin says, doing so can mitigate the mental health benefits of exercise for some people, because “you’re putting pressure on yourself because now you’re paying your credit card for the next few months with a statement of expenses for this thing.”

As long as it doesn’t make your workout feel guilty or stressful, Albin admits that having a cute new outfit or resistance bands that match your exercise mat can motivate you and make the experience more fun. “But you definitely don’t need to buy anything special for it,” she says. “That’s one of the barriers for people who think they don’t have the money or the time — you don’t even need a full hour.”

Tip 5: Save the Competitive Mindset for Another Day

For her final mental health workout tip, Albin shared that while there is a time and place for competitive workouts, she doesn’t think they’re as beneficial for mental health. If you like to race your friends on your Peloton, or want to stay in Orangetheory’s Orange area, great, says Albin—just make sure you get in at least one workout a week so you can enjoy moving your body .

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