Exercise for Mental Health: How to get Started

exercise for mental health

Last week our Toronto naturopath, Dr. Sahar Tabrizi, talked about the benefits of exercise for mental health.  This week she is going to give you tips on how to get started. 

Now if you’re thinking, “I get it, but I just hate exercise”. Break the image in your head that exercise takes place at a gym with weights, or that exercise leaves you feeling tired, and you just don’t wanna do it. Find a form of exercise that actually excites you. To do this, you need to know what kind of person you are and what qualities you naturally possess. Take some time to brainstorm on this if you’re not sure. If you are a creative or artsy person, your exercise can be in the form of dance, choreography, or animal flow type exercises (Google it if you haven’t heard of animal flow, it’s pretty cool).

If you like a challenge, pick an activity that is progressive or has different levels, such as rock climbing at a gym. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a “strong” person, the point is to start somewhere, and incorporate movement into your life. If you feed off of a little healthy competition, see if your local community centers have any openings for a position in team sports like tennis or soccer. Or, find a group of friends that are willing to do exercise challenges with you. It’s always more fun when friends are involved. If you’re more of the “need to be alone and need peace and relaxation” person, try swimming.

If you are set on not leaving your house, home-exercise programs are the way to go. The most important thing here is to write out a schedule, especially if regular exercise is not yet a part of your daily routine. Here’s an example:

Monday morning: Mat exercises (yoga/abs/stretch)

Tuesday afternoon: Backyard exercises (drills: burpees, jumping jacks, skipping rope)

Wednesday: Off

Thursday evening: Couch exercises (squats, lunges, push-ups, tricep dips)

Friday morning: Stair exercises (fast, slow, skipping steps)

Saturday afternoon: Mat exercises (pilates/abs/stretch)

Sunday: Off

There is an abundance of home-exercise videos on YouTube and Instagram. Find an exercise guru that resonates with you, follow them, and incorporate their programs into your routine.

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