Exercise Your Stress Away

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The Benefits Of Exercise: 6 Tips To Get You Started

BY BRITTANY MCGILL

Exercise is beneficial for your emotional health as well

Exercise is beneficial for your emotional health as well

It’s widely known that exercise is good for our physical health and as part of a balanced lifestyle has benefits for our emotional wellbeing as well. The Australian Government’s guidelines – issued by the Department of Health – suggest that Australian adults should be active on most (preferably all) days of the week, and achieve at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity per week. If you’re interested, the guidelines can be found here.

Despite the clear benefits of exercise, many of us find finding the time a constant struggle. Some of us fail to fit any exercise into their busy lives, and this has an impact on our health and stress levels. Worse, we look for other ways to manage our stress and many of these, like alcohol or comfort eating, are unhelpful. Exercise is the best way to manage your stress but it can be hard to stick to your goals. Here are a few tips to keep you on track.

Tip #1: Be Realistic

‘Black and white’ or ‘all or nothing’ thinking can lead to a sense of failure when exercise goals are not achieved, which may cause you to completely abandon your exercise routine. Remember, some movement in your week is better than none.

Tip #2: Schedule, Schedule, Schedule.

Make exercise a priority by sectioning time aside in your diary, like you would do for a work meeting, or a coffee with a friend. Booking an exercise class at a gym or studio can be a good motivator – the monetary investment may make it more likely that you will stick to your routine.

Tip #3: Be Flexible

Despite attempts at scheduling, sometimes life will throw you a curve-ball which will get in the way of your exercise routine. This is not the be-all-and-end-all. Be kind to yourself while things are more stressful, then get back into a routine that suits you as soon as you can.

Tip #4: Just Keep Moving

Exercise that you do incidentally throughout the day still counts. Consider parking your car a bit further away from work or the grocery store, or walking your children to school instead of driving.

Tip #5: Get An Exercise Buddy

Combining exercise and socialising is a great way to foster motivation. There is nothing like a bit of friendly peer pressure to get you out of bed for that 6am boot camp!

Tip #6: Don’t Focus On Numbers

Focus on how exercise makes you feel, rather than the numbers on the scale. Unless you have been recommended to lose weight by a medical professional, evaluate the impact of your exercise routine based on reduction in stress levels, and improvements to your mood, fitness and strength, rather than on its impact on your size and shape.

Brittany McGill is a clinical psychologist who completed her postgraduate clinical training at the University of New South Wales. She is interested in anxiety and mood disorders across the lifespan and uses cognitive-behavioural and other evidence-based strategies to help people achieve positive change in their lives.


 

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