It’s no news that exercising can do wonders for your physical health. By working out or moving you get fit, get stronger and increase your stamina. However, your exercise is also of huge benefit to your mental health.
According to the Health Service Executive (HSE), exercise provides a number of benefits that are nothing to do with losing weight, as this isn’t always the goal of working out, and nor should it be!
Physical activity helps to reduce stress and boost your energy levels. What’s not to like? This happens because when we exercise it can cause chemical changes in the brain, that can put you in a great mood.
On your social media accounts, you might end up seeing a stream of home workouts and ways to lose weight in 30 days. Unless you absolutely have to lose weight, don’t fall into the false perception that lockdowns are used as boot camps. The diets and ‘get fit fast’ schemes that are sometimes promoted on Instagram very often do more harm than good and most experts will tell you that they really don’t work.
Exercise can do wonders for your mental health, so for your next workout session try to choose something that will get your heart pumping and the positive energy flowing. If you never exercise but are feeling a bit unmotivated, bored or even a bit low then start with just one exercise session a week and gradually build this up to two or three times a week.
Figuring out what exercises suit you best can be hard, especially if you’re a bit of a couch potato (no judgement here, I myself am a couch potato). Here are a few simple exercises that will get you moving and start you off on exercising to make you feel great.
Often, we can forget that walking is actually exercising – that is until we’re walking through town with all of our shopping bags. This is such a simple form of exercise that isn’t too strenuous either. You can choose to stroll around while listening to your favourite podcast or put some power music on and go on a speed walk around the park.
Even just walking ten minutes to go to a different shop can help to encourage positive thoughts. Start off small and each week walk a little bit further and before you know it, you’ll have a set routine you love to follow.
If you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, change the steps target on your phone’s fitness app and try your best to reach that target either every day, or a certain amount of days. These tasks can really help to get you motivated and when you reach your target it feels so rewarding!
If walking isn’t your thing, or you’d just rather not brave Ireland’s weather a few times a week, don’t worry yoga is another amazing option. When doing yoga, you focus a lot on your breathing. These calming deep breaths can help by calming your mind, which could possibly reduce any anxiety you have and of course, the stretches help you get moving after a long day of sitting down.
Consistency is key with yoga, so try find a routine that suits you best even if it’s just a 15-minute routine. When you’re starting out, take your time and go at your own pace to ensure you enjoy it. The Yoga Room has some great videos for beginners to help you get started and relax.
Not all people can sit still or stretch for a few minutes, some get easily distracted (or easily bored). This is probably one of the most fun ways to get moving, especially if you enjoy being active. You don’t even need equipment for this one just put on some music and get moving!
It’s so easy to get lost in the music and afterwards you feel so energised and happy. You can get dance classes online or just blast your favourite music. Just Dance on YouTube have short snippets of their dances if you like to follow along, with the fun element of a game, or you can buy the game if you love to dance.
High-Intensity Interval Workouts (HIIT) are well, intense, however they are known to reduce stress that you come across in your day to day life. These bursts of exercises keep you focussed on breathing and getting through your workout, helping you to stop thinking about your worries, even if it’s just for a few minutes.HIIT workouts are of course quite a hard form of working out, so do them when you feel ready and at your own pace.
EMKFIT is a fitness instructor on YouTube who does full body blasts. You may be thinking ‘what makes her so different from other HIIT pages?’ Well, EMKFIT has a number of HIIT workouts to some of our favourite musicals and singers. She does all three High School Musicals, Britney Spears, Mamma Mia and even Shrek, among much more. What a fun way to get yourself moving, especially if you love to dance but are up for a challenge!
Once you find an exercise that suits you, do it is often as you can to boost your moods and escape the stress and worries that could be getting you down. It’s important to stay safe when you exercise and only do what you can manage so not to over work your body – trust me if you do this you won’t want to exercise again for at least another month.
Working out should be about making yourself feel great and comfortable in your own skin, not slimming down to achieve an unrealistic body image, so do whatever you love for you and only you.
By Emily Clarke