Many of us find it difficult to stay motivated when it comes to exercise, because we tend to wait until we feel ready. For example, when we are tired or depressed, the last thing we want to do is work out, which would actually help improve these lethargic conditions or help prevent them in the first place.
Once we are physically in motion however, our feelings become elevated with a sense of well-being as a result. In spite of this knowledge, our brain may still continue to fight against exercising when we think of all the effort involved. Ironically, much of our effort is expended in all the ‘thinking’ and indecision around exercise, rather than the exercise itself.
Moving our bodies on a regular basis is often thought to be predominantly valuable for the body, but it is equally beneficial for the mind as well. When moving our bodies, we don’t have to expend as much mental energy ‘trying’ to feel better emotionally, because our body movement creates a natural physiological remedy.
Think of exercise as ‘medication’ for your brain. “Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning,” claims Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Ratey, author of the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. According to Ratey, “Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.”
Knowing that even 10 minutes can greatly affect our mental state, may help to alleviate our concerns around any time constraints we may have. For work out periods beyond 10 minutes however, it may help to schedule certain days of the week ahead of time, thereby reducing the vacillation process and providing more structure.
It is important not to shame yourself into moving your body however, as it will defeat the whole process, and is not very motivating. Rather than saying to yourself, “I should go to the gym”, try “I could go” instead. Using the word could removes the shaming aspect, and makes it much more of an empowering decision.
It is also very inspiring to focus on the following positive benefits of exercising rather than any negative aspects that may inhibit us:
- Increased life span
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced risk of various cancers
- Enhanced mood and energy
- Reduced tension and stress
- Increased self-esteem and body image
- Increased sense of well-being
- Decreased pain and depression
Whether you choose the gym, a walk in nature, or an exercise tape at home, it is a goal well worth your time, not only for your body, but for your mind as well. However, make sure to consult your physician, if just getting started.
Change your brain by moving your body today, in spite of how you feel.