If you’re working at your job, caring for a new baby, driving kids around town, taking care of an elderly loved one or any combination of these, you probably don’t have the time, energy or patience to add one more thing to your to-do list, never mind 45 minutes of exercise. However, this one simple addition to your routine could improve how you feel, how you see yourself and how you face the world. Interested?
It Just Takes 45 Minutes
45 minutes of exercise in some form, just three to five times per week can have amazing physical and mental health benefits. If 45 minutes of exercise seems out of reach, think of each session as an opportunity for “me time” that could improve your mental well-being. You could also try adding these moments to your list of things to do, just so you can take pleasure in checking them off the list.
Often, the toughest part of any new physical routine is getting started, but there are extensive mental health benefits to doing just that. First, physical activity releases endorphins, which can trigger positive feelings in your brain and improve your mood. In turn, this boost in your state of mind can help you deal with bouts of anxiety and depression. It could lift your spirits and help you accomplish even more than you thought possible.
Additionally, being more active during the day can help you sleep better, which has its own rewards. Poor sleep and depression tend to reinforce each other, meaning that one often leads to the other and creates a vicious cycle. In this case, not sleeping well could lead to depression, which can lead to poor sleep, and so on.
Adding movement to your day can help improve self-esteem, especially if you find that your clothes fit a little better. After a few weeks of 45 minutes of exercise, you might even consider trying on some jeans that you haven’t worn in a while — just to see how they look and give yourself some encouragement.
Tips to Keep You Moving
Pick a time of day to exercise for 45 minutes and be consistent. Maybe you know that if you don’t move as soon as you get out of bed, you won’t fit your session into your day. Alternatively, maybe a sunset stroll can help you relax. You do you.
Make it fun. Play music and throw a private dance party. Just the sound of your favorite tunes could help improve your mood because it can trigger happy memories. Music also causes the brain to release norepinephrine and melatonin, which help you relax and sleep.
Try something new. Learn to hula-hoop or belly dance. Take up a new craft or art project. Check online for instructional videos or visit your local community college to take some classes.
Add some steps. Accompany the kids to the bus stop, take your dog for a walk or park your car in a space that is farthest from your door — anything to get yourself out for 45 minutes of exercise.
Mix it up. Walk outside one day, then dance in front of the TV on the following evening. Keep it fresh and flexible.
Chart your progress. Give yourself positive feedback. Whether you use pen and paper or an app on your phone, seeing progress toward your goal of 45 minutes of exercise can increase the likelihood of success.
Go outside and play. Being active outdoors on a sunny day enables your body to take in vitamin D, courtesy of the sun. Low levels of vitamin D can contribute to depression, anxiety and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Be sure to wear sunscreen if you plan to be outside for an extended time.
Make new friends. Being active enables you to interact with people, and socialization is vital to fighting isolation and depression. Stop by the local park, join a gym or walk to wherever people gather. Wave and strike up a conversation. 45 minutes of exercise will go by in no time when you’re having fun with friends.
Strive for 45
45 minutes of exercise for three to five days per week seems to be the sweet spot, but any increase in physical activity can be beneficial to your mental and physical health. To learn more, check out the accompanying resource.
Dan Borucki is an ISSA Certified Fitness Coach and Personal Trainer at Reclaim Fitness. He is committed to providing a level of service that is focused on the individual, whatever his or her needs and goals may be. Borucki strives to encourage, support and challenge his clients to feel stronger, healthier and more confident.