Keen to get healthy but exercising feels too hard?
Movement is one of the five pillars of a healthy, thriving life (alongside Momentum, Menu, Mindset and Mastery). The incredible benefits of living an active life even extend way past the physical benefits of good health and fitness, to helping you improve mental health, self-esteem and sleep.
So you know how good exercise is for you, but what if you’re facing physical or mental challenges that make it hard to get moving?
Well, your first port of call is going to be your doctor, who’ll be able to give you a check-up and advise you about the type and intensity of exercise you should consider. Always follow your doctor’s advice – the suggestions made here are of a general nature to help you with possibilities to consider within the framework of the advice you receive.
Situations that hold you back from achieving your goals can be super frustrating and overwhelming, but the good news is that with physical activity, there are usually options or adaptations you can choose to get you started.
Remember, every bit of movement counts!
Exercise while injured
If you’re recovering from an injury, it can feel super frustrating to suddenly be sidelined from your usual activities.
So here’s what you should know.
Your body needs time to heal from the injury. It’s really important to allow yourself that time by following directions from your health professional, fuelling up with good quality protein and antioxidants, and taking time to care for your mental health.
BUT don’t become afraid to move more once you’re given the go-ahead. Babying an injury excessively has been linked to poorer recovery times and outcomes, including the development of additional health challenges like blood clots. Blood flow and movement are important tools your body uses to heal itself.
And to prevent further injuries in future, remember to pace yourself during exercise. Take time to warm up and cool down properly, build up intensity over time and schedule in rest days along the way.
Exercising when you have an illness
Depending on your illness, exercise can be a really useful tool to help you maintain mental wellness. In some cases, it can even help with your physical recovery! Ask your doctor if some movement can be helpful in your case.
Also remember to allow your body time to rest when it needs it. Starting a new workout routine while you have a flu is probably not the best idea, and in this case it’s best to wait until you’re feeling better before exercising again.
Exercising with depression
When you’re depressed, the last thing you probably feel like doing is bouncing around the room. On the really tough days, it can even be hard just to get out of bed!
But this is where exercise really has something incredible to offer.
Exercise can help you manage the symptoms of depression in some very powerful ways. For example:
- Exercise releases endorphins.
These feel-good brain chemicals provide an amazing pick-me-up, so tap into them by committing to a small boost in your physical activity. A walk outdoors in the sunshine or surrounded by nature can delivery a double-whammy of happy brain goodness. Do this regularly to tap into the goodness.
- Exercise gives you something else to focus on.
Instead of focussing on your worries, exercising (especially mindful exercising) will help you set goals and focus on the positive things you achieve each time.
- Exercise can lead to social interaction.
Although you may not feel ready for it in the beginning, over time you can choose to build new connections through your physical activity.
The benefits of spending time with others is also very positive for mental wellness, especially when you find others on a similar journey to your own. This decreases loneliness and ups the happy factor!
- Exercise helps you deal with painful emotions in a healthier way.
When things are really tough, it can be tempting to find ways to take ourselves out of those bad states, or even numb our feelings.
Exercise helps you smash those bad feelings in a way that is healing, as opposed to choices like drugs, excessive alcohol or excessive eating, which only make things worse.
Exercising when you’re very overweight
When you’re carrying a lot of extra body weight around, even doing basic activities can be exhausting. Extra weight can affect your speed, strength, range of motion and balance.
While a well-planned exercise program will definitely help improve all these things, it can be very daunting to start with.
So first find out your limitations (with your doctor). And then just start small.
A great way to do this is to set small challenges for yourself, like you may choose to walk 100m further each day or try a new class once a month.
I’ll say it again, every bit counts!!
My challenge to you:
- Pay your doctor a visit to discuss increasing your activity.
- Write down some ideas on how you can increase activity in your day (this can be as simple as getting up for a glass of water every couple of hours, or cranking up the music and having a dance while you mop the floor).
- Get started!
Set healthy habits for a brighter future!
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