We all know we need to exercise, but the reality is that with many of us leading busy lives at the best of times, let alone dealing with mental health issues, exercise often gets left out.
It can be hard to build exercise into your day; work, family or social commitments often take priority. Or maybe you’ve never thought of yourself as an exerciser. If you’re experiencing depression, then it’s likely your motivation levels may be low, which makes the thought of getting out of a bed at 6am on a dark winter’s morning even less likely to happen.
The good news is that we’re living in a time when affordable ways to exercise are abundant and accessible. Forget all the ‘fitspo’ posts you see on Instagram, it’s time to get practical. Building regular exercise into your routine can be totally doable when you break it down into manageable chunks.
Here are some ways to add exercise into your day:
No need to run away to the Himalayas, head to an intimidatingly exclusive yoga studio or cover yourself head to toe in expensive branded leggings – you can get all the wonderful benefits of yoga from your home.
Before I trained to be a yoga teacher, I started off by learning via YouTube videos. I didn’t even have a mat at this stage, I used a towel on my bedroom floor! Although I would advise in investing in a mat now….You can get good quality, relatively cheap ones online from Amazon.
If you’re a total beginner, there’s no need to be put off – online yoga teachers such as Yoga With Adriene make it super easy to learn. Adriene has hundreds of videos, including ones specifically for anxiety and stress and winding down before bed, and is funny to boot. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is very refreshing and makes learning yoga more fun.
For more of a physical yoga class on YouTube, try Sadie Nardini.
If you work in a suitably-sized office, why not ask your HR team if they can fund a yoga teacher to come in and run regular staff classes?
If you’re based in London, there are many free or very low cost yoga classes available – see more here.
The best thing about running is that it’s free! Even if you’ve never considered yourself a runner, there are lots of ways to start from scratch. I used to label myself a ‘non-runner’ years ago, but managed to train myself to run two charity 10k’s in one year! I would run to work a couple of times a week or at lunchtime and it always made me feel much more positive.
If you’re interested in running in a group, Park Run hosts free Saturday morning runs all over the UK, as does Runners Need. If walking rather than running appeals more, The Telegraph journalist and mental health advocate Bryony Gordon founded Mental Health Mates, which hosts regular ‘walk and talk’ meetups.
Challenge yourself to try something different
There are so many ways to exercise that you may not have thought of trying before – climbing, boxing, dancing, Pilates, swimming – the list is endless. Many centres offer the first class free, which is a great way to try new things without having to commit.
For a free Pilates class you can try the Light Centre in Moorgate. Not free but very fun are climbing at the Mile End Climbing Wall, Reggae Aerobics and 1Rebel spinning (not for the faint-hearted, this is a full body workout that never fails to raise my endorphins).
To learn more about Helen, you can head over to her website here at www.samsaracommunications.com