This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series Feel Positive in Tough Times

Power Skill 6

energy to exercise

Exercise increases resilience.

Part of nurturing your body is exercise, which also strengthens your mental capacity. When you exercise, you’re training your brain to respond to stress in a new way.


Benefits of Exercise

The first thing we think of when we think of exercise is how it affects the body. It helps with weight management, muscular health, and body functioning. Exercise also reduces the risk of heart attack and lowers high blood pressure.

Physical activity is vital to maintain throughout your life. It helps with health risks that come with getting older, and it ensures good health long-term. 

There are physical benefits galore, but making exercise a regular part of your life also will significantly impact your thinking and emotional equilibrium. 


Consider these benefits of exercise: 

1. Exercise acts as a natural antidepressant. If you’re struggling with depression, exercising can help relieve the distress and give you the energy to take care of the things you need to take care of. If you’re not currently depressed, exercise will help decrease your risk of falling into a depressive state.

2. Exercise eases anxiety. It naturally calms the brain and builds new, positive neural pathways. Be mindful while you exercise. How does your body feel? Where can you relax? What are the sounds you hear? By paying attention to the details of your moment, you’re benefiting from mindfulness and easing anxiety.

3. Exercise builds resilience by providing an excellent outlet for stress. When life is chaotic, and out of control, you can participate in training and begin to feel better, even if for an hour. Consistent training reduces overall stress and helps you handle stressful situations more effectively.

4. Exercise releases pent up energy. By moving your body and appreciating what it can do, you’re clearing out negative emotions and allowing new ones to come in. While you’re exercising, it’s easier to put some distance between you and your struggles.

5. Exercise helps you cope. You can allow yourself to feel proud of what your body can do. You can feel proud of your hard work and your progress. Giving yourself that positive attention will help you build your relationship with yourself.

6. Exercise increases confidence and self-worth. This occurs not only because your body is getting healthier, but also because your brain is, too. Your mind is yours to nurture and care for. A great way to do that is by getting your body moving. 


Ways to Exercise 

There are many paths to a healthy exercise routine that works for you. When people mention exercise, it’s easy to imagine a gym or running shoes. Here are some other options:

1. Think about outdoor activities other than running. Going on a nice walk is a great way to get in some mindfulness while moving your body. You can also go on a hike, go surfing, go parasailing, or partake in your favorite outdoor activity. You could even go fly a kite on a windy day.

2. Try something you’ve never tried before. It may seem intimidating but taking up a new hobby is a great way to expand your horizons. Going with a friend can be a fun memory, and taking a new class is a great way to meet others. Try rock climbing, surfing, dancing, or whatever activity interests you.

3. Join a team sport. We’re never too old for recreational sports. Whether you like tennis, soccer, or frisbee, there’s a team for it that will be happy to have you. If you’re just beginning, don’t worry. Joining a team is a great way to strengthen skills because they provide accountability and encouragement.

4. Exercise in your own home. Jump on a trampoline for 15 minutes in the morning to get a great start on your day. Use a stand-up desk and balance board while you work at your desk. Take a dance break, listening to your favorite music, and dancing with lightheartedness and fun.

5. Exercise indoors. Sometimes, it’s too hot or cold outside to do an activity that requires being outside for too long. During inclement weather, swim at an indoor pool, take a yoga class, or do Pilates. 


How to Get Started with Exercise

It can be challenging to find the motivation to get started with an exercise program. If you’re intimidated by exercise, there are a few things you can do to ease that fear and get excited about your physical activity.

Set goals that will help you to achieve success as you get started and beyond.

A great way to achieve these goals is by utilizing your support system and asking them to hold you accountable. You can also ask one of your friends to begin an exercise activity with you. If you’re helping each other achieve goals, you’ll get more excited to move forward. 

Think of exercise as an opportunity to learn something new. Get curious about what your body can do and try to do it.

It’s essential to let go of perfectionism. Most people don’t stand up on the surfboard the first time they try to surf. That’s okay – it’s no reason to give up. 

Begin your workout routine by starting small. If you want to try going to the gym, begin with just ten minutes walking on the treadmill. You can go to a yoga class and do your best on every pose, and give yourself a break to sit down if you need it. 

Once you have confidence in the small stuff, you can start building up. You’ll find that exercise will make you feel calmer and better able to handle outside stressors.

When you stick with it and see your progress, you’re building the resilience to help you in all areas of your life.