The Fruitful Life

3 Exercise Tips for Physical and Mental Health

3 Exercise Tips for Physical and Mental Health

Today we welcome a guest post from The Recovery Village, a rehabilitation center committed to holistic treatment and wellness. They share with us three important tips for exercise to improve both physical and mental health.

Not many people attribute improved mental health with exercise, but the connection exists. Switching from a couch-potato lifestyle to one that involves exercise can be exciting and mentally refreshing. Starting a workout routine can help you feel invigorated in other areas of your life as well, boosting your confidence and motivating you to reach your goals.

Exercising can also lift your spirit. Physical activity involves the production and release of feel-good chemicals, which can provide short-term, positive feelings and a desire to continue exercising. However, the initial mood boost can wear off. People new to regular exercise should form a plan to prevent their fitness goals from being derailed by unreasonable expectations, boredom, and fatigue. Here are three tips to help you stay on track with your health, both physically and mentally!

Prioritize Realistic Goals

Some people jump into extreme exercise regimens without considering that they might not be physically prepared. They may attempt to work out with someone who has been regularly exercising for years and fall into the comparison trap or discouragement. Be kind to yourself by setting reasonable expectations for your exercise performance, even if it doesn't appear to measure up to others at the gym.

Mental Health America recommends 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity as well as strength training twice weekly. However, building endurance and strength are the two main cornerstones of achieving progress in physical health, and accomplishing these feats requires a starting point. Even if you’re just being active twice a week for around 30 minutes per workout, that’s better than nothing! Every small step is progress toward improved mental and physical wellness.

Set short-term benchmarks in addition to long-term ones, and celebrate small gains. If your goal is to be able to run 5 miles, start with 1 mile. Once you're comfortable with that distance, gradually increase it, perhaps from a 1-mile run to a 1.25-mile run. Celebrating each step achieved towards your goal is essential to reaching them! Being active and fulfilling goals can raise one’s self-worth and reduce feelings of stress or anxiety.

Prioritize Variety

People who begin an exercise regimen will often initially feel motivated and energized to hit the gym or go running. After a while though, doing the same exercise or set of activities can feel like a chore. Repetition can lead to a loss of interest, which can spell disaster for your fitness goals.

Instead of the same exercise routine every day, consider including a variety of options. Go on a 3-mile run through a neighborhood one day, lift weights the next, and play a team sport on the third day to stay mentally engaged. If you are bored with your usual routine, you may be tempted to only invest minimum effort. Change up the location or distance of your run and add new weightlifting exercises every so often. Varying your routine can lead to stronger workouts and bigger gains in physical health. 

Prioritize Rest

Starting to exercise regularly is a positive decision, but allowing the body an opportunity to rest is extremely important as well. Muscles often need a day or two to recover, especially when adjusting to increased physical activity. If your body is telling you to take it easy one day, listen to it.

The same goes for the mind. You might be mentally exhausted from work or school and the thought of going to the gym is overwhelming. The mind can benefit from a day without feeling obligated to exercise. Mental Health America says that making time to unwind is vital to mental health: “Deep relaxation, like meditation, when practiced regularly not only relieves stress and anxiety, but also is shown to improve mood.”

If you’re new to exercise, know your physical and mental limits. Understand that you won’t be able to bench press 400 pounds or run a marathon right away, and recognize that repetition often results in a lack of motivation. Doing so will help you transition into a lifestyle that includes a mentally and physically healthy amount of regular exercise.

*Content contained in this article is not intended to provide or to constitute medical or healthcare advice. Nor can it be relied upon as preventative care, cure, or treatment for any disease or medical condition. You should consult a qualified healthcare professional for advice regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and before starting any supplementation, nutritional, exercise, or other medical program.


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