We all know the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Getting motivated to exercise while you’re depressed can feel like the hardest hurdle to tackle, but without physical activity your risk for certain health conditions rises significantly. Studies have proven that lack of physical activity can increase your risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and stroke. Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you’re depressed or feeling down, but studies show time and time again that exercise has numerous health benefits, both physical and mental.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. Neuro-scientific studies show that individuals who exercise have a better physical and mental wellbeing. And since scientific findings support the view that a healthy mind depends on a healthy body, exercise and mental health go hand in hand. Exercising regularly improves your sleep, boosts your metabolism, improves memory, and makes you happier! When you exercise chemicals like endorphins and serotonin are released, contributing to a mood boost. Exercising regularly relieves stress and anxiety, and even helps individuals recover from mental illness issues.
The issue at hand is that while we are aware of all the excellent benefits regular physical activity has to offer the body and mind, it doesn’t change the fact that the motivation to exercise can be difficult to achieve. We know, trust us! So we came up with a list of 5 practical ways to help us exercise when we are not motivated to!
1. Set A Goal.
How do you set a fitness goal? Research shows that specific goals are the most motivating! Several things can interrupt your fitness routine, such as illness, burn out, and tough schedules. But when you set a very specific goal, it can help you jump back into your fitness routine.
Use the S.M.A.R.T. approach! The S.M.A.R.T. principle stands for 1)Set specific goals- something like run a mile 5 minutes faster in 2 weeks is a specific goal. 2) M stands for set measurable goals- a goal that is unattainable is worthless. 3) Set adjustable goals. This means that you can be flexible with your fitness goals should unexpected challenges get in the way. 4) Set realistic goals. There’s no point in setting yourself up for failure, so stick to a goal that is realistic. 5) Set time based goals- Without a set timeline, people tend to procrastinate.
2. Exercise With A Friend.
Planning to exercise with a friend can give you the motivation and accountability that you need to follow through with your fitness routine. You can motivate each other. Try to choose an exercise partner who is around the same fitness level as you. Turn your exercise routine into a friendly competition even, like who can get to a destination faster or who can do the most reps with free weights. The possibilities are endless, but when you have a support person it’s easier to get up in the morning and stick to your exercise routine, and you can be each other’s motivation!
3. Make It Fun!
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, in fact it shouldn’t be! Physical activity should be fun and full of variety. So get out of the mind set that exercise is boring and negative, and focus on the positivity of it. Turn on your favorite station that gets you pumped up on your iPod or phone and crank up the volume! This puts the focus on something other than the exercise you’re doing, and helps the time go faster! You can get social, and invite some friends to go on a run with you.
You can also join a class at your gym like spin class, yoga, or dance! You’ll be making new friends and doing something so new and fun! Adding that variety into your exercise routines can make all the difference! Lastly, keeping a journal that tracks your exercise goals, progress, and even notes about how exercising makes you feel can be a fun, motivating tool to help you enjoy exercise even more.
4. Put On Your Workout Clothes.
Forget that old tee with holes in it, or those stained sweatpants. Whether you want to admit it or not, a new outfit can motivate you to do certain things. When you’ve just bought a perfect new outfit you want to put it on your body and go out right? Well it’s the same with new workout clothes.
Every time you put on a new pair of yoga pants, or a cute new sports bra you just get more motivated to work out! It’s magic! The cute new workout clothes in your closet can be your incentive to exercise more! It can also give you the motivation to hit the gym or a new class, because it’ll give you the boost of confidence you may be missing! A new pair of sneakers can get you in the mood to workout, and help your feet feel better too! When you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing, you become more motivated. So invest in some quality exercise clothes and shoes so that you not only feel good, but know that these pieces will last you a long time and won’t wear out.
5. Exercise Outside.
Exercising outside can be invigorating and enjoyable, but it can also boost vitamin D levels. The vitamin D levels you’ll be getting when working out in the sun impact depression. There is such a thing as seasonal depression, and it’s very real; some individuals become depressed in the winter months. Struggling with depression can make exercising especially difficult.
1 our of 10 people have depression, and studies show that 1 in 3 of these cases will be severe. Individuals leading an unhealthy lifestyle, such as being inactive or overweight, are at a much higher risk of developing depression. Several studies have shown a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in depressed patients. Research has proven that high doses of vitamin D can actually decrease some symptoms of depression! Many doctors put their patients who are depressed on vitamin D supplements to help with symptoms. So put on your workout clothes and your sneakers, and head outside to exercise today!