Using Exercise to Boost Your Mood
Walked to work today. Takes about 20 mins. Am fairly depleted immediately after I arrive, but soon recover and think it does me better over all.
Today’s session for my group had a title something like the one above (not sure if I have it verbatim). The interesting thing about exercise, for me at least, is the fact that we know it helps but it is one of those things that a person has to get their head around doing. (Also found in changing other habits such as eating better, giving up smoking etc). It seems to be one thing to know the theory, but yet another to get off our respective backsides and do something about it!
I could wax lyrical about the possible deep and meaningful reasons behind this apparent aversion to doing the right thing. For me, I could put it down to childhood trauma surrounding ‘games’ at school (Shudder!!!) I would probably be called dyspraxic if I was a kid at school today, back then it was simply clumsiness. Oh, the trauma! Seriously, tho, there is something a little twisted about the way we humans often ignore the good we know we should do and instead do that which is bad for us. I have an inkling that there is something to do with our fallen state involved there, but that is perhaps for another discussion. The fact remains, for many, that we know we should ‘get out more’ but don’t, for whatever reason.
Whether or not I can put my finger on the ‘why’ of this common avoidance of good, healthy exercise, the group session today did reveal a couple of possible ways of overcoming it. Here they are, for the interested amongst you:
a) Choose a way of exercising that is enjoyable. If you are an outdoorsy type, for eg, the gym is not likely to be for you. If you can manage to find something you think is fun, then you are more likely to keep it going.
b) Make a plan. Tell yourself what you plan to do, for how long, how often and when you will begin. Then do it! It may be an idea to tell someone your plan, thus becoming accountable. This leads neatly into
c) Find some friends to exercise with. Join an already existing group or, if you prefer, arrange with a mate or two to attend an exercise class together. It is harder to make an excuse to other people than it is to yourself on the days you just can’t be bothered.
d) Start slow and build up. Don’t overreach and thus set yourself up to fail. Conversely, don’t set the bar so low that you see no real benefit and thus give up for that reason.
e) Fit your choice of activity into your schedule, bearing in mind work/family commitments etc, and also when in the day/week you know you are most likely to succeed. However, even though you are fitting exercise amongst other important stuff, realise that this is still a vital part of staying well and not really an optional extra.
Okay, that is your mission, should you choose to accept it. It may seem impossible – but hopefully it isn’t. Good luck (or suitably theologically appropriate alternative!)
Post script (added 19/05/10)
Now have pedometer attached to me. Current number of steps so far today (pause to look at step-counter) is 7753. As is 10.31pm (i.e. nearly bedtime) I reckon that counts as today’s total. Friend loaned me book on managing arthritis (fibromyalgia can involve this kind of pain) and it has a step-by-step guide (yes, I know!) on how to gradually increase the amount of steps I take per day. This is day one, of three days, where I will be measuring my current activity level order to take a baseline average to work from. Today may skew the results a little, tho, as I walked most of the way home from work as well as walking to work today. I hardly ever do that at the moment. As for my knees currently – owwwwww!