I was inspired to write this post on exercise solutions by a wonderful article in BP Hope that not only talks about reasons for making sure that you are exercising but also tries to overcome some of the barriers to making this change.
You already know why
Exercise is critical for brain health
Exercise and physical activity is the most powerful thing that you can do to counteract the effects of aging and depression on your brain. It stimulates the production of “growth hormone” for your brain (brain derived neurotrophic hormone – BDNF)
Exercise improves mood
It is one of the most effective things that you can do to improve your mood. It has both antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.
Exercise counteracts weight gain
There are so many reasons that people with depression gain weight: the medications, depression itself and perhaps even genetic and biological factors. Exercise is a foundation to preventing weight gain. Just as diet is essential for weight loss, exercise is essential for preventing weight gain.
Exercise solutions involve changing how we think about exercise or physical activity. One of the first mental roadblocks is that years of advertising has focused on helping us avoid physical activity by focusing on the idea of convenience and passive entertainment (driving everywhere, watching TV, etcetera).
I don’t have the time
This is the top reason people give for not exercising.
The solution is to think of exercise in a different way. Don’t think of it as something that you have to do in a specific time and place (an hour at the gym); notice all the ways that you can add exercise and physical activity to the things you already do.
One of the reasons that step counters are effective is that they create an incentive to find ways of adding steps to your day in a very time efficient fashion. When I used one I noticed that I could
- walk while I was watching my daughter’s soccer match
- take the stairs instead of the elevator
- park my car a little further from my office in the shade
- do walking meditation instead of sitting meditation
These changes had a minimal impact on my schedule but boosted my physical activity significantly.
I am too tired
The top reason for not exercising if you are depressed. Unfortunately, depression makes you feel exhausted the idea of adding physical activity can seem an overwhelming barrier.
The answer is to start really small. Choose just one five minute physical activity to add to your schedule, but make sure to do it every day. This establishes a new habit very gradually increase the amount.
Exercise increases physical stamina and reduces fatigue over time, especially if you follow this plan.
And even a very small increase in exercise has noticeable effects on mental and physical health.
I hate to exercise
Of course you do. Most everyone who is saying will not enjoy going into an ugly place and doing something that is boring.
But many people love doing things that involve physical activity:
- going for a walk in a park
- playing an outdoor game with friends: frisbee, badminton, golf…
Begin by thinking about things you used to do that you enjoy. This is a good place to find ideas for fun physical activity.
- I am too out of shape
- I don’t know how to get started
- I never stick to a program
There are lots more roadblocks to exercise… Read the article called more solutions.