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Movement for mental health and wellbeing

Exercise, in its many forms, can be a very effective and accessible way to enhance mental wellbeing. Beyond physical fitness, exercise stands as a cornerstone of holistic wellbeing, encompassing physical, mental, and emotional health.

In the hustle of our daily lives, and the pressures of mainstream/social media starting to push the idea of tAkInG cArE oF yOuR mEnTaL hEaLtH. It can be overwhelming to consider how to fit in exercise in amongst everything else. However, taking care of your wellbeing can tie in nicely with a consistent routine of movement.

Before diving into personal experiences and the trials and tribulations of exercise, I thought it would be best to outline some key benefits of exercise and fitness that, maybe you already know, or maybe you don’t. But either way, having these benefits in the forefront of your mind when considering stepping up, or into, your exercise and movement routine might be a great motivator when you’re thinking why the heck you thought this was EVER a good idea.

Physical fitness lays the groundwork for a robust body. Regular exercise strengthens muscles, enhances flexibility, and improves cardiovascular and respiratory health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) such as heart ailments, diabetes, and obesity. Engaging in physical activity can also bolster the immune system and increase lung function (Your lungs and exercise).

Mental Health Benefits

Aside from physical features of exercise, mental health also reaps the benefits. The release of endorphins during exercise acts as a natural mood enhancer, and helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise can be a powerful tool to alleviate mental strain, enhance cognitive function, and promote better sleep patterns. Even a brisk “hot girl walk” or a short yoga session can often create immediate benefits.

A daily, or almost daily, routine of physical movement, can provide a rare opportunity to disconnect from daily stressors and social media. Whether it’s a silent walk, listening to a podcast or playlist, or doing a group fitness activity; exercise really serves as a form of mindfulness, allowing the focus to be on your movement, your breath (or, depending on the difficulty – trying to breath?!) or what you are listening to in that moment. This respite can be quite the reset.

Furthermore, exercise also can promote a sense of accomplishment, routine and increase self-discipline. Meeting your set goals, whether they be simply engaging in a movement each day, or fitness and strength related, can provide a real sense of achievement. Also, discipline through regular exercise routines can translate into resilience, productivity and motivation to face challenges and achieve goals.

Adopting exercise into daily routines does not need to be significant or overwhelming. This journey can be ignited though daily walks, stretching, increasing your steps, a small amount of short body weight workouts each week, (I will NEVER suggest taking the stairs – why would I EVER choose that option!?! – but do that if you are crazy…). Whatever it is you enjoy, consistency is the pivotal feature, just like any other habit, for long term enjoyment.

Other Points

The importance of nutrition in tandem with exercise cannot be overlooked, for both fitness and wellbeing related goals. A well-balanced diet complements physical activity, and (as we KEEP HEARING) hydration is also crucial. Also, while exercise can greatly benefit mental health, this is (obviously) not a replacement for professional help for comprehensive mental health care.

Anyway, in conclusion, benefits of exercise go well beyond physical fitness and can contribute to a more balanced life, one step, one workout, and one positive mental shift at a time.

I look forward to talking more about this topic as it has been a… love-hate overwhelming volatile dynamic relationship for me and I am sure there are so many other who could relate to this experience.

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