Exercise provides a wealth of benefits to our physical, emotional and mental health. Fitness builds our self-confidence, makes us less anxious, and can even battle depression. Anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns often get in the way of fitness. Exercise, then, can help create a harmonious cycle of health, but it can also lead to burnout or injury if not tempered with a positive attitude, rest and mindfulness.
Although the motivation for fitness can be weight loss, strength building or other physical goals, exercise in itself is a mode of self-care that supports mental and emotional well-being. Together, fitness and some of the following self-care tactics can help support total overall well-being.
The importance of sleep and rest to fitness
One of the most exercise-supportive activities is to do nothing. Sleep and rest are crucial components to physical health, including muscle development, as the microtears in muscles need time to mend. Without proper sleep and rest, you run the risk of exercise burnout – becoming overworked or injured. If you are on the sidelines for an extended period of time, you can become out of shape. For those who struggle with maintaining an exercise regimen, remaining injury-free is crucial.
Add joy and concentration to your life with hobbies beyond exercise
Working out is time consuming and requires a great deal of commitment. For some people, exercising fits right into their lives as an enjoyable hobby. Others see any amount of physical activity as drudgery on par with torture. Finding enjoyable activities that help make exercise sustainable while broadening other areas of one’s life is one way to foster healthy living. One method is through finding enjoyable activities that may be unrelated to working out.
Hobbies such as knitting, coloring, drawing, reading, writing and gardening focus less on physical activity and more on restorative relaxation. These hobbies keep your mind focused and active, which helps reduce stress. They also have a calming effect, making your workouts more effective because you are less distracted.
Some other hobbies can be exercises on their own while playing a supportive role for your main workout routine. Swimming, cycling, walking and yoga each benefit other fitness regimens, providing flexibility, conditioning and even mental clarity. Yoga provides a particularly strong outlet for fitness support. While yoga may not be the first activity one thinks of as a weight loss exercise, it is a practice, so it positively influences the rest of your life. Yoga classes prepare your body and mind for fitness.
Making room for meditation – in your head and in your home
Sometimes, a form of rest or exercise can help you tap into your deep emotions and unlock your goals and desires. Mindfulness results from meditative practices, including yoga and quiet contemplation. Meditation is a useful tool for listening to your body as well as your mind. You can more easily understand your life if you walk away from the noise from time to time.
Meditation is simple, because it can be done in any quiet spot. You do not need to travel someplace to meditate. You can set up a meditation area in your home with just a few steps. Ideally, your meditation space will be in an area set aside from the bustle and commotion of your daily life. Make sure you choose a clutter-free and comfortable area.
Through a combination of mental and physical support, self-care can boost your fitness routine, while minimizing injury and creating the ideal environment for sustained, whole body well-being.
By Sheila Olson, fitsheila.com
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