Summer has arrived and the holiday season is upon us. It is a great opportunity to be active and take advantage of the sunny weather. You may be on holidays but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore the needs of your body and mind and be sedentary for the entire break. Sure, take some time to relax and unwind, but if you can try to incorporate some physical activity into your day you will feel better for it.
There are the obvious physiological benefits of exercise, such as weight control and a reduced risk of illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. However, there are also significant positive effects on mental health. Research has shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to develop depression throughout their life (Wipfli, Landers, Nagoshi & Ringenbach, 2011); and if someone is suffering mild to moderate depression then exercise can be an effective treatment (Bruijin & Rhodes, 2011).
Think about that for a moment – exercise can be effective in treating someone’s depressed mood. If this doesn’t highlight the importance of exercise, what does? The bottom line is, exercise is important for the body, and is great for the mind. It can help you sleep more efficiently, feel better about yourself (improve self-esteem), and give you more energy throughout the day.
How much is enough?
Dr Jeff Hall of Bulli Medical Practice (www.bullimedicalpractice.com.au) recommends simplifying the government guidelines to five sessions of 30 minutes duration per week of moderate intensity exercise (i.e. brisk walking). This can be built up from there but the important thing to remember that some is better than none.
But I just cant get motivated, you say?
Taking the first step towards exercise can be difficult, particularly if you don’t have it as a regular part of your life already. Just the word ‘exercise’ can be threatening evoke psychological problems! So perhaps begin by changing the terminology to something less threatening: physical activity. That already seems more achievable. Here are some more tips to help you get moving over summer:
- Do it for yourself.
- Invest in your goals on a personal level and you will have more chance of achieving them. Think about the future and what you really want for yourself. Visualise a better life and begin working towards that today.
- Set yourself realistic and achievable goals. Start small and work your way up. If you set too big of a goal you will be more likely feel overwhelmed. Begin with taking a walk on a Sunday morning, no pressure. Take baby steps!
- Measure your progress. This can help you feel good about what you are achieving and will increase motivation little by little.
- Higher intensity activities may be easier to fit into a busy day.
- Mix it up and do something fun. Remember, it’s about physical activity so be creative. Go for a swim or surf, kick a ball around the park with your children, go trampolining at Flip Out – you’re never too old!
If you have tried the above and still don’t seem to be able to enact change in your lifestyle, speak to a psychologist at Marsden Clinical Psychology. Psychological strategies can help to increase motivation to change, address barriers to change, and enhance motivation to change.
Adam McRae, Associate Psychologist at Marsden Clinical Psychology, has over 10 years experience working as a health coach to create behaviour change. He can help you to be successful in achieving the lifestyle change you want and need. To find out more about Adam or to make an enquiry/booking click here.
Keep an eye out for our article which will be specifically about binge drinking and tips to keep it under control over Christmas and New Years Eve and SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EMAIL LIST below to receive more helpful tips for your mental health.