When stress and anxiety creep into our lives, the overwhelm can be daunting, even paralyzing. As a movement professional and a workout lover, I know that exercise not only benefits our physical fitness, but plays a huge role in our mental health and overall wellness.
When I was an “aerobics” instructor back in the early 1990’s, we were still believing and preaching the “No pain, no gain” philosophy. Nike told us to “Just do it” and it was “All In or Nothing” for Adidas. High energy, (let’s not forget high impact!) aggressive and fast paced movement modalities were popular. I remember the exercise high I would get, followed by aches, pain and fatigue.
Don’t mistake my less than ideal memory of fitness a few decades ago and think that I now believe intense workouts are not worthwhile or that they can’t be enjoyable. My current workout schedule includes outdoor road cycling, spinning and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). They are weaved into my Pilates, stretching and barre classes, to create a well balanced routine that takes into account my body, my brain and my “fun meter.”
Moving your body should be enjoyable and your exercise choices – Fun!
Scientifically, we know that when we exercise, our brain sends out chemical signals. These signals or neurotransmitters are responsible for how we feel, how we act and how we behave. There are approximately 100 neurotransmitters working in our brain, carrying out many functions. 2 of these signals are endorphins and serotonin and they are responsible for why we feel so good when we exercise.
So, if we understand that exercise will transmit a “feel good” signal from our brain to our body, why don’t we get out of our chairs, off our devices and move?
For many, exercise is a chore. It is a task that gets added to the daily to-do list. I am here to offer some tips to reframe your beliefs about exercise and maybe, just maybe, raise that fun meter!
Let’s not call it exercise – There are days when I love a good workout, but sometimes our bodies just need to move. I tell my students all the time, “listen to your body, it just might tell you something you need to know.” Being intuitive and checking in with our body can help to decide what type of movement your body and mind might be craving.
Get outside – Joseph Pilates reminds us, “By all means never fail to get all the sunshine and fresh air you can.” Walking and running outdoors or hiking in nature can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, boost your energy and mental clarity and clear your lungs.
Try something new – I recently added “rebounding” to my workout options. In the “old days” we called it a mini-trampoline, but telling my friends that I have a Rebounder sounds so much more interesting. Investigate and review a new activity that might pique your interest and get you moving more often. Plus, adding something new can increase the synapsis of the brain which is great for your concentration and memory.
Go virtual – We are staying home more than ever. Why not enjoy the comforts of your home, commute to your computer screen and drop into a virtual fitness class. Check out the variety of streaming services that are available to you. Cardio, strength training, yoga, Pilates, barre – you name it and it’s there waiting for you with just a click of a button. Most have a free trial for 7 days to 30 days so you have nothing to lose!
Make it fun – Exercise does not have to be torture, unless that makes you happy! Finding movement that excites, energizes and sparks joy is the perfect equation for a successful and consistent workout routine.