Exercise as Life-Changing Self-Care: How Physical Activity Can Boost Mental Health

Whether it’s hitting the gym, going for a run, or doing an online exercise class — physical activity can be a powerful tool for mental health and an essential part of self-care. Whether you are looking to reduce stress, boost your mood, promote positive thinking, or simply move your body — find out how engaging in physical activity can help you this February and beyond!

The Connection Between Exercise & Mental Health

It is no secret that exercise has numerous physical benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, weight loss/management, and increased energy. These physical benefits can often lead to improved mental health by promoting endorphin release (the ‘feel good’ hormone), reducing stress levels, and improving sleep.

For those struggling with certain mental disorders such as depression or anxiety — exercises such as running or cycling can have immensely positive effects on their overall mental wellness. Physical movement releases endorphins which gives us a sense of euphoria— commonly referred to as the “runner’s high.” The more we engage in regular exercise routines, the better our bodies become at utilizing oxygen more efficiently which contributes to both physical and cognitive performance throughout our daily tasks (e.g., work, school).

Tips for Making Exercise Part of Your Self-Care Routine

Incorporating physical activity into your self-care routine doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating—find out how you can start small and find what works best for you in terms of achieving overall mental well-being!

  1. Find something you enjoy: Participating in activities that make YOU happy is essential for making sure exercise is not seen as a chore but rather an enjoyable experience that promotes positive physical and emotional changes within your body! Don’t want the traditional gym environment? Try online workout classes! Not a fan of cardio? Check out more low impact options like yoga or pilates!
  2. Set realistic goals & achievable targets: Start off small by setting achievable goals that are manageable within your given lifestyle (e.g., walking 10 minutes per day). Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t reach them right away – fitness takes time! Aiming for smaller goals allows us to recognize our incremental progress without feeling overwhelmed in the face of our long term target(s).
  3. Make it social: Working out alone isn’t always easy — join forces with family members/friends who also have similar fitness goals in mind to stay motivated during times when motivation is low or nonexistent! Working toward common objectives together will help keep everyone accountable while having some fun along the way.

Self-care shouldn’t be limited purely to escapist Netflix binges and bubble baths (although those certainly do bring joy!) but should also include more active ways of caring for ourselves such as engaging in physical activity regularly — find out how exercise can become part of your self-care routine this February!