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Exercising for your mental health

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

The goal here is to do any type of movement that makes you happy!

We had an incredible community call on Sunday February 20th where we were joined by current and former D1 athletes who talked about how they exercise for their mental health. There were many insights and stories shared by everyone at the meeting and we've made a list of the ideas shared and the many resources. At the end of the recap you'll find a list of workout ideas that are specifically to boost your mood. There is a lot of stress related to exercising whether that is performance anxiety, what you look like in the gym, comparing your body to others, or a fear of not being good enough. Our goal is to alleviate those fears and talk about how amazing even a 10 minute walk or stretch can be for your mind!

Advice for moving for your mental health:

  • Think about exercise as a form of self-care and make sure it is fun!! You do not need to over-exert yourself for it to count as a workout.

  • Differentiate between "working out" and "moving". Working out can feel like a burden and adds pressure to your day but moving is freeing!

  • Make a playlist you love listening to and makes you feel like dancing.

  • Choose a type of exercise that you actually like to do. It can be playing a sport in a recreational or intramural league, swimming, surfing, skiing, walking, kickboxing, absolutely anything.

  • Accept yourself for where you are with fitness. Do not compare yourself to others or your former self. Just because you used to be able to run 3 miles in 25 minutes does not mean you need to at this moment in your life.

  • If all you can do today is stretch or go for a walk around the block, congratulate yourself! Any movement will help your mental health.

  • Take a day off when you need it. There should not be pressure to "do a workout" every single day.

  • It's not about the numbers!! Take your watch off, you don't need to track what you are doing if it makes you stressed :) Your body will remember your movement even if technology doesn't.

Helpful mindfullness apps:

  • Insight timer- over 100,000 FREE meditations for all moods and activities

  • Tapping solution- guided body tapping routine to reduce stress

  • I AM app- helpful affirmations that show up in a widget on your phone

  • Motivation app- motivational quotes in a widget to keep you moving

  • 1 second a day- record all the movement and fun things you do!

Workout Ideas:

These workout ideas are not necessarily meant to build strength or get you on a fitness plan. They are meant to show you that working out does not need to be a chore. Just elevate your heart rate for 15-30 minutes to release endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!

1. Grab a buddy and do something FUN!

  • Grab one friend or a group and suggest getting outside and doing something fun but low impact!

  • Can be a walk, hike, swim, tennis game, throwing a frisbee, playing basketball, anything.

  • This will remind you that exercising is meant to be fun and put a smile on your face.

2. The Groove Run

  • Choose your favorite music and run for the length of one song then walk for the length of one song.

  • This run focuses on the length of songs rather than time or distance.

  • Get lost in the music and don't worry about how long you go for, getting a PR, or impressing anyone. This run is for YOU.

  • You are under no obligation to track it. You can even take your watch off!

3. THE Walk

  • This is YOUR walk. Throw on a motivational podcast, your favorite workout set or comfy clothes, and pick a scenic route or even a destination walk to get coffee!

  • Make sure to wear your running shoes and do a fast walk at the tempo of an upbeat or motivating song.

  • If you are on a treadmill this would be about 4mph.

3. Stretching!!

  • Skylar (pictured above) from The Hidden Opponent spoke about how sad and angry injury can make you. She put her all into physical therapy and found joy in stretching and moving her body in the ways she could.

  • Stretching and simple movements are an amazing way to get out of your own head and put your focus on synching your breath to movement.

  • If a walk seems like too much on any day, try doing some big arm circles, reaching up to the sky then to the floor and focus on your breath moving from your head to your toes.

4. Madfit at home workouts

  • FREE YouTube dance, ab, full-body, and weight circuit workouts.

  • As short as 10 minutes!

5. Easy Yoga

  • We've compiled a list of 6 videos of yoga and stretching flows that can help you relax and feel the benefits of exercise on your mind. All of these coaches have many more free videos on their channels!

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