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3 Ways Fitness Helps With Mental Health (+ a few tips to help you get started)

When you hear the word “fitness”, what comes to mind first?

Abs?

Muscles?

Weight Loss?

Diet?

While strong muscles, toned abs, beach body and weight loss are among the commonly known benefits of having a regular fitness routine, being physically fit has benefits that go beyond the obvious.

Did you know having a regular fitness routine can also do wonders for your mental health?

Seeking professional help is always advisable when it comes to dealing with mental health issues but a great way to complement this is to have a routine that helps you cope and thrive day to day.

Here are 3 ways fitness helps boost and improve your mental health:

It helps you sleep better

8 hrs of sleep does wonders for your mental health, and having a regular fitness routine increases the likelihood of having a full night’s snooze.

Exercising may reduce the amount of time you need to fall asleep and decrease the amount of time you lay awake waiting to fall asleep. Recent research also indicates that exercise helps in realigning your internal body clock and decreases cases of insomnia among patients.

Try doing at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercises today and see how it affects your sleep tonight.

It leads to increased self-confidence and self-esteem

Self-esteem shouldn't be tied with the way you look, rather it should be tied with the way you feel.

How are you going to feel confident if you feel sluggish, and have aches and pains all over?

If it exhausts you just climbing 2 flights of stairs?

Having a regular fitness routine motivates you to set goals relevant to your physical health, and achieving these goals are generally tied to your confidence and sense of self.

If you feel good, you’ll look good.

If you look good, you’ll feel even better.

A regular fitness routine allows you to get to know who you are, what you're capable of and how much you're willing to do to get to your goals.

It gives you a sense of community

They say “no man is an island” and no matter how much of an introvert you say you are, this can be true for you at certain moments in your life.

Isolation and loneliness, according to research, have significant effects on a person’s mental health and will have a negative impact if left unchecked.

This is where fitness may come to the rescue; having a regular fitness routine can help you build interpersonal relationships and have a sense of belongingness.

Popular YouTube exercise videos encourage you to leave comments, post your workout photos using their hashtags so you can see that you’re not in the journey alone. Other people, who may very well be on the other side of the planet, are doing the same exercise routine as you and are experiencing the same transformation as you.

Having a fitness partner, may it be a spouse, a friend, or an entire virtual community will help you be more accountable to yourself and to your goals. If you have a community, the motivation doesn’t just come from your personal resolve, it comes from a group of people who want to see you win.

Any exercise routine or activity becomes less like work and more like fun when you share it with someone.

Don’t think you can make it work? Sure you can! Try these ultra-easy tips to get started.

Start with the basics

Having a “fitness routine” doesn’t mean you need a full-on home gym to start. It doesn’t even mean you need to subscribe to a gym.
In fact, being fit doesn’t even have to happen inside a gym!

If you’re already tired just by watching and reading all these crazy preps and requirements - the equipment, the clothes, the post-workout snacks, etc that the internet is making you do, don’t listen to it.

Start with the basics, and move up from there.

All you need is your body, and your willingness to move, to get started.

Suffering is optional

Again, being fit doesn’t only necessarily mean lifting weights, doing crazy pull-ups and push-ups in a gym.

If you don’t enjoy that sort of thing, then don’t subject yourself to that kind of suffering!

Instead, find something fun and that you enjoy doing. There are a ton of options that are available and it’s absolutely possible that you’ll find something you like.

A yoga class, pilates, dance class, sports, or running in the great outdoors are among the popular options!

Make the activity something that you like, so your brain can associate it with “fun” instead of “ugggh, here we go again”.

Make time

Here’s the thing, everyone only has 24 hrs in one day, that’s a fact and there’s nothing you can do about that.

If you keep saying “you don’t have time”, then you will never have time. What should you do? Make time!

Out of the 24 hrs in your entire day, how much time do you spend in your fitness routine?

If you can devote a full hour browsing whatever’s the top story in IG or sifting through tweets or playing another round in your online game, then you can devote 15 mins doing three sets of 1 min planks, 15 squats and 15 lunges.

TODAY is better than tomorrow

Don’t get caught in the never-ending cycle of “tomorrow, I’ll do it”. Today is yesterday’s tomorrow so you owe it to yourself to get off your butt and move.

So what if you can’t do a single push up to save your life? That doesn’t matter! Progress, no matter how small, is always better than perfection.

What else are you waiting for?

Go on and get moving!