Exercise for Mental Health

Exercise for Mental Health on Te Araroa
Exercise for Mental Health on Te Araroa

Exercising for Mental Health

One of the issues that people experience when they are having difficulty mentally – especially those experiencing depression – is that you find you don’t want to do anything you aren’t required to do. One of the things I learned a decade ago when I was feeling down, was that when I felt down and I didn’t want to walk or bicycle, these were some of the best things for my mood. Why?

Exercise for Mental Health on Te Araroa Walk
Exercise for Mental Health on Te Araroa Walk

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Exercising allows you to view the world around you, getting you out of your mind for awhile. Exercise allows you to get fresh air and increase your metabolism, which helps your body to produce natural feel-good hormones. Exercise helps you to lose weight, which can further help your moods. Exercise can help you develop a schedule that brings you out of your shell. Exercise (when around others) can help you to develop more friendships.

Meeting a Friend on Te Araroa
Meeting a Friend on Te Araroa

Exercise for my Wellbeing

I try to exercise each week with my son at the gym and I also try to go on long tramps, either with him or on my own. This last week, I had a bit of extra time – a luxury for me – and I decided to do a few substantial walks. I left home earlier than usual and was half way through the walk before I saw the sun. I encountered two sheep on my travels and had a conversation with one of them. I felt the wind on my face, the air in my lungs and the feel of my feet as they contacted the ground. For those interested in meditation, there is a type of meditation called “walking meditation” and this is something I did, as I felt my body contact the earth.

Exercise as Self-Care for Mental Health
Exercise as Self-Care for Mental Health

Exercise for Your Mental Health

Try to get out, even when it feels difficult. Start with something small and try to add to it over time. We need sunshine. We need contact with other life. Perhaps you can find a friend who will go with you and who will encourage you on days you aren’t as excited about going. Every step helps!