Have you heard of the runners high? We cannot tell you enough that including some form of exercise in to your daily life will make you happier and can improve your mood for up to 12 hours.
This is because it reduces cortisol levels in the body and releases endorphins and dopamine, the “happy chemicals”. You don’t have to be the fittest person who is exercising every day to receive the feel-good benefits of exercise.
It is often hard for people to commit to an exercise program because they tend to set long-term rather than short-term goals. When people take New Years resolutions they set them up to include the entire upcoming year, but that can be really overwhelming. Although, it is important to make physical activity a daily habit, as it will fade after more than 12 hours post exercise.
In some cases exercise may be able to complement other standard therapies as a cost-effective alternative in the treatment of mental health issues. Exercise confirms your new identity to yourself. It changes the type of person that you believe that you are and proves that you can become better. The self-confidence that comes with exercise is one of the biggest benefits, mainly gained by weight training. It doesn’t matter if you’re battling depression, working to lose weight, or trying to create work that matters. Your identity, the type of person that you believe that you are, is what dictates how far you’ll go in any endeavor.
When it comes to beating depressing over the long-term, this is what makes exercise more powerful than medication. It’s not that medication doesn’t work, it does. But exercise does something that medication doesn’t. It proves a new identity to yourself. Each time you finish a workout, you reap the benefits of an increased sense of self-confidence. An antidepressant doesn’t work this way.
How can you apply this to your life?
Current recommendations for most adults are at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. You’ll get there by exercising for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. You can break things up by two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute workouts.
Make it a habit. Science shows us that there’s a right way to build habits that last. Follow these steps to make exercise one of them:
- Choose activities that make you feel happy and confident
- Start small and build momentum
- Make it automatic with triggers. The alarm clock goes off and you’re out of the door for a walk, or you leave work for the day and head straight to the gym.
- Add strength training to your routine.
- Exercise with a group.
- Reward yourself. Don’t do this with cake and fast food, but have a nice hot bath after exercise.
- Avoid stop and start and stop again syndrome!
- Look in to the future and remind yourself daily WHY you are doing this.
- Think outside the gym. Horseback riding, dancing, swimming are exercises too.
- Don’t forget to stretch..