Mind over matter

Mind over matter

The way we think about exercise is something of a love-hate relationship. We love the feeling it gives us when it’s over, but many of us aren’t too keen on getting started.

Often when we are about to embark on a new diet, or exercise regime, we’ll tell ourselves “I’ll start next Monday”, or “I’ll just have this last biscuit before I start”. This can become a cycle in itself and before you know it, 10 Mondays have been and gone and the biscuit jar is down to its last.

Giving ourselves psychological tricks to get fit are a bit hit and miss, but the one thing we do know is that exercise makes us feel great both inside and out, and new research has shown that exercise can lower the risk of depression by 30 per cent.

The trouble is, if you wait until you’re feeling low then the likelihood is that you’ll be less motivated to any exercise at all. Which is why when it comes to fitness, right now is always the best time.

Why wait until next Monday if you can get out right now and go for a swim/run/walk? You know that when you’ve done it you’ll be beaming. And the other thing you’ll be thinking is “well it wasn’t that hard”!

We tend to build things up in our mind to something more than we think we can deal with, so the idea of going out for a brisk walk is somehow turned into the thought of scaling Kilimanjaro. Like many things in life, if you just do it, you’ll realise that it really was nothing to stress about after all.

A friend of mine recently took up tennis, and bit the bullet to pay for a coach. She only started thanks to being persuaded by a friend, and now she thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread. “I’ve learned so much,” she said. “You should give it a go!” My response, of course, was “but I’m rubbish at tennis.”

But really, I’m only rubbish at tennis because I’ve never given it a chance. Maybe if I did get some proper coaching I might find that I’m much better than I imagined.

Our minds are often the only thing holding our bodies back. We often convince ourselves that we’re no good at something – even if we’ve never even tried it. What we should be doing is trying these things out anyway, and if we end up being useless at it, well at least we got fit trying!

Just ten minutes’ of brisk walking can improve you emotional state according to new research from the Mental Health Foundation to mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Any kind of regular physical activity can increase your self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety and can act as prevention and treatment for mental illnesses including anxiety and depression.

The report shows that those who undertake regular exercise have a 20-30 per cent lower risk for depression and dementia. It is suggest within the report that exercise is used to “regulate mood during the day” but does warn against overdoing it. Low mood and irritability can be the result of doing too much.

It says: “People should choose a type of physical activity based on what they enjoy doing.”

With only 40 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women in the UK doing the two and a half hours a week that the NHS recommends, it’s so important to spread the word that anyone can enjoy exercise.


There are so many sports out there that you really could start right now, as they don’t need special equipment and you don’t need to take lessons.


You could step out of your front door in pretty much whatever you’re wearing and go for a brisk walk. You don’t need any special footwear, unless you’re going hiking, and you can go in all weathers, with anyone.


All you need here is to make sure you’ve got a decent pair of trainers, but you don’t require a special studio or fitness room, you can just take advantage of your surroundings.


Okay, for this you need a pool and a swimming costume, but once your there you can do as much or as little as you can manage, even if it’s just holding onto the pool side while you kick your legs frantically.


Home aerobics is a doddle. Many people find a DVD works better to follow, but often all you need to do is stick on a CD and dance around a bit. No special clothing needed!


Find some bags of sugar, potatoes or anything else lying around (preferably two of them) to hold in each hand and lift. You may find you prefer visiting a gym for this, but there’s absolutely no reason you can’t do it in your own home.

So now drop the excuses, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes – and get active!


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