You may be reading this from your bed right now feeling like you need to do some exercise but have no motivation or energy to do so. I know exactly how you feel as I have been there myself and know the struggles to go through to get into a routine to exercise. I am sure you don’t need me telling you that exercise is great for mental health as you have probably read it and been told numerous times. For the people who don’t know, exercise is always prescribed to people suffering with mental health issues because of the feel good hormones released into the body. Plus due to the lack of energy, motivation, people suffering mental health disorders tend to be more unhealthy and have a diet higher in sugars and comfort foods. So you can see why exercise is so important.
HOW CAN I START?
*PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR AND GET PERMISSION BEFORE STARTING AN EXERCISE REGIME*
OK so you want to start but don’t know where so the best thing to do is start little and build it up over time. Find a walking route from your house, or perhaps you live a walkable distance to your job, school etc. Do this walk daily and each time see it as a real sense of achievement knowing you are doing something. Each week slightly build up the intensity/distance you are doing. Maybe walk to and from work, get off the bus/train a stop earlier and walk that extra bit longer. Doing this for a couple of weeks is enough to get you out in the fresh air, getting the joints moving and knowing that you can do it even if it is only small.
I won’t lie and say this all sounds too easy, it isn’t. This is where you will have to be strong and test yourself. Set yourself a time limit, let’s say 20 minutes. Start your timer, get outside and just walk till the alarm sounds and then you can go back home. At the end of each walk tell yourself you are proud of what you did and tomorrow you will do it again.
Set yourself very small goals and write them down i.e Week 1 – Walk for 20 minutes per day. As the weeks go on your goals can increase, perhaps you want to lose weight and set yourself a weight/clothes size target. Basically make sure the goals are small enough they are easier to accomplish and you’ll notice whatever your long term goal is get closer and closer and your motivation to keep going will stay.
I WANT TO TAKE IT UP A LEVEL
OK so now you are passed the initial stage we can start to work on a little more intense exercise. I have created a short, simple workout that anybody can do and as it gets easier, can be enhanced to suit your fitness levels.
If you want to see how the workout is done I have created a video of the workout here for you to follow along. Otherwise see below for the workout and how to enhance it over time.
SIMPLE BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT
7 exercises, 10 repetitions per exercise. Rest for 1-2 minutes at the end and repeat up to a maximum of 5 times. As the workout gets easier you can increase exercise to 12, 15 or 20 repetitions.
– Star Jumps (Jumping Jacks)
– Mountain Climbers
– Back Raises
– Plank (10 seconds)
This short and simple workout will raise your heart rate and work your whole body so is the perfect place to start. As said above, if unsure how to do these exercises, refer to the video for complete guidance by me.
A WORD ABOUT NUTRITION
Yes exercise is very important for every person but the motivation to do it can come from what you eat also. People suffering mental health disorders tend to go for comfort foods so high in carbs and sugars. Carbs tend to relax the nervous system, which is why people are so drawn to them. Try to as best as you can eat the right carbs so plenty of vegetables Lot’s of fruits, proteins from meat, fish or lentils and tofu if vegetarian.
Drink plenty of water each day and try not to skip meals. This will give your body plenty of energy which will help with your motivation to exercise. At the end of the week if you accomplished a minimum of 3 exercise sessions, treat yourself to a lovely greasy meal to keep your spirits high.
If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact me via the details below.
I wish you all good mental health
Anthony Mayatt (Breathe Fitness)
More about Anthony
Anthony is the owner and founder of Breathe Fitness London and has worked in the health and fitness industry for over 13 years. His vast experience has seen him train the rich and famous all over the world from Greece to Chile in South America. As someone who has suffered depression throughout his adult life, Anthony has a passion for helping people in mental health and uses his experiences to help his clients on a daily basis.
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