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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Honess

Does your New Year's resolution include being more active?

Well, the good news is that exercise of any kind has so many benefits! The bad news is that many of us end up thinking about it in the wrong way. Exercise has been shown to help many mental health disorders, including: anxiety, depression, ADHD, and PTSD. The problem is we often approach exercise as a way to lose weight or change the way we appear, rather than a way to have fun, change our mood, connect with someone, experience the outdoors, or just have better mental health. Exercise of any kind can have a positive effect, but if we look at it as a means to an end to appear a certain way it becomes discouraging fast. When you can instead think, what do I love to do that also involves moving my body? It becomes easier to reap the many benefits exercise has to offer. Do you love ping pong? Go play a game! Is gardening your thing? Grab your shovel and start doing prep work in the garden for next season. Do you love going for a walk? Bundle up and get outside!

 

Doing these activities with the mindset that it will boost your mood becomes a much easier task than trying to get yourself to do something you hate for a long off goal of a number on a scale. I love the saying in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that action precedes motivation. It is so helpful to remember we often don't feel motivated until we do something, but if the action is something we love we can make that action happen a lot easier than if it is something we don't enjoy. So, if you don't feel like getting moving, remind yourself, action comes first, motivation second, and then think about something you like doing and do that. The amazing thing is that exercise of any kind can be beneficial at improving mood. 


Lastly, as someone who works with families and couples, I want to remind you that physical activity can also help your relationships. If you are looking to connect more with your kids, have a dance party, play a game of tag, or make a game of floor is lava in your living room.. Not only will these activities help boost your mood, it will also help your child's mood and increase the connection between you. If you want to work on your marriage do something active your partner likes together. Maybe your partner loved baseball as a kid, ask them to show you how to bat. Maybe they danced all through high school, have them show you a simple step. This not only will work to improve both of your moods due to the physical activity, but as an added bonus you are showing interest in your partner and making an opportunity to have fun. 


So, is exercise a cure for what you're struggling with? Absolutely not. It won't cure anything. But could it be a super helpful tool? Yes!  And be creative! Almost anything that involves being active can have some benefit! 

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