Why exercise is good for mental health

Black woman smiling while flexing her muscles

 

We all know exercise is good for us. You’ve known it your whole life, right? Maybe you’re someone who already exercises. Maybe you don’t. Or maybe you’re somewhere in between. 


For most of us, exercise is something we just don’t get enough of. We try to get to the gym or outside a couple times a week. We commit and recommit to our fitness goals. We tell ourselves, “I’m going to finally follow my fitness plan this week. I’ll start tomorrow.” We write out a plan, we feel optimistic, we are ready to change. 


Then it comes time for the workout, and we just can’t bring ourselves to do it. 


The reality is, many of us lack the motivation. This is one reason it is great to eat whole fruits and veggies every day. Eating clean, healthy foods fills us with energy and vibrance, filling our body and mind with color so that we in turn are motivated to experience more vibrance and more color. 


We eat healthy, which naturally energizes and motivates us to get out and exercise, which naturally motivates us to eat healthy. It’s a beautiful cycle. 


Starting that really awesome cycle can be so dang hard though, right? That’s what Ruvi is all about - empowering you to start the cycle; to light the fire; to get what you need to begin living the life and having the health you dream of. If you haven’t yet, go check Ruvi out. While you do, we’ll be here talking about all of the ways that exercise improves your mental health, and why it is so important. 


Come on this journey with us. 

Why exercise makes you happy

In addition to burning calories, when you exercise your body and brain release endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid. These are “happy chemicals” and hormones that cause you to feel fulfilled, at ease, and pumped up. 


Because of this and other amazing benefits, exercise can be very helpful for those of us with depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses. 

Better sleep

Exercising can reduce “sleep onset” for many people. Sleep onset is the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep. Exercise can also reduce daytime sleepiness, which is awesome. It even causes some people not to need sleep medications. Can you imagine that? Just because of getting out and moving. We love that. 


One caveat, don’t do intense exercise right before sleep. For some people, this actually causes their sleep to be worse, as exercise releases endorphins which causes the body to be more alert. 


So, no Rocky Balboa tire-hammers or stair-climbs up to the capital right before bed, you hear? (We know you’re tempted.)


Sleep is central to mental health and mental clarity. If you’re sleeping well, you’re more likely to feel a stable sense of well-being and brain chemicals will be more in balance. Exercise to improve your sleep, and in turn your mental health. 

 

People exercising outside togther - girl smiling as she stretches

 

Build relationships

One of the greatest parts about working out is working out with others! Exercising with a workout buddy, sports group, or workout class can be seriously motivating. 


When you have others counting on you to be in class, or you’re worried they’ll say “hey, where were you last time?”, it can be motivating to get you to show up. Though, this is hopefully a positive thing, and not fear-based. If it starts out that way though, don’t worry. Eventually, you’ll come to love the exercise and do it for its own reasons, not just because you don’t want others to be disappointed in you. You need to start somewhere! 


So how does this help your mental health? We all know that the relationships in our lives are some of the most precious and important things we have, if not the most. Exercising with a group or a buddy can help you feel like part of something bigger than yourself, and it can get you out socializing and out of your comfort zone. The more you expand your social circle and your comfort zone, the more your mental health will likely improve. 


Increase your motivation to make healthy choices

Exercising is hard work. When you exercise, you are less likely to eat a bunch of junk, as you don’t want to work against yourself or undo any of the awesome work you put in. Afterall, working out hurts! 


This is one of the ways exercising can help you make healthier choices. 


In addition, when you begin seeing and feeling changes in your body, and you’re loving the results, you want to feed that success. So, you tend to eat healthier. 


Physical health and nutrition is very clearly connected to mental health. But, it can be hard to stay motivated to eat healthy. So, exercise is kind of like a life hack to eat healthier, as your motivation naturally increases without you needing to force it. It just happens naturally.

Neurogenesis

Exercise promotes the production of new neurons in the brain. So, when you exercise, you are literally growing your brain! Keep exercising and your head may grow to the size of a watermelon! 


Okay, so maybe it doesn’t work that way. But hey, it would seem all of those people we called “meat-heads” in the past may have had far more brains than we thought, huh? 


When you can increase the plasticity of your brain and promote the growth of neurons, this can help you to solve problems and experience life in new ways. This is just another way to live life in color. 

Self-confidence

Exercise can help increase your self-confidence in many ways. The one most of us may think of is that exercise can help with physical appearance. Losing weight or building some muscle can certainly be a positive outcome that may help you mentally and emotionally. But guess what? Despite what some may say, that is not what’s most important!


Exercise builds your self-confidence because you complete goals and feel accomplished. It also makes you feel dang good, so that helps you just feel more confident in general. On top of that, you get to prove to yourself that you can do something hard. As our very own Mo Hendricks puts it: 


“I fully believe that if you create your ‘hard’, then when somebody else puts something hard on you, you already know how to handle it. So, if you wake up in the morning and start your day off with something that’s tough, that makes you suffer a little bit, later in the day when someone comes at you with something you can say ‘I’ve already done something harder today, I can handle this’.” - Mo Hendricks


You rock, Mo! To read our full exclusive interview with Mo, click here


Not all of us need to be an NFL superstar or an Olympic gymnast, but if we are able to do something that’s at our level of hard, and prove to ourselves we can do it, then our confidence can soar. And that could be something as simple as walking a mile or jogging for a few minutes. 

How do I get motivated to exercise?

Alright, so exercising is super awesome for mental health. So what? If you don’t feel motivated to do it, then what are we talking about all of this for? 


Now you are asking the really deep questions. Thank you hypothetical person reading this article. You’re questions are on point. 


Check out the points below for how to get motivation hacks to get exercising. Maybe you’ll find something useful! 

Find what fits you

Exercise is different for everyone. What one person enjoys, another may not. It is important to find what fits you, helps you feel fulfilled, and is enjoyable. Here are some things that you might do to increase your love of exercise:


  • Do it outside
  • Do it with other people
  • Listen to music or an audiobook you like
  • Reward yourself with a healthy protein shake after the workout (we recommend using a plant-based or collagen protein mix)
  • It’s competitive
  • It’s hard enough

This is going to look different for everyone. Perhaps you value fun, perhaps you value challenge, or perhaps you need a little of both. Find your niche. Find what gets you up in the morning, or out after work, to get your fitness on! You need to make it fulfilling for you personally. 

Make a plan

Setting personal goals for what you are going to do for your exercise can be extremely helpful. Especially when starting out, having a plan can be absolutely crucial. This will help you to have some more accountability and expectations for what exercise is going to look like. Without any expectation or accountability, it can be hard to follow through. 


Also understand that it is okay if you do not reach your goals or follow your plan at first. You may need to adjust over time to know what is reasonable. Just start testing things out and see how it goes. It’s not like once you make a plan you’re locked in - explore, learn, grow. 


Also, allow for exception on occasion when needed; sometimes things come up in life and fitness can fall by the wayside. That’s alright, just pick it back up again the next day. 

Be reasonable

It is extremely important when you exercise to be reasonable in your expectations of where you are at. Don’t write a plan to run 3 miles 5 times a week if you haven’t ever ran before. Remember, every great athlete (or everyday fitness-lover) started somewhere. Love yourself and give yourself time! 


If you’re a beginner, try making a goal to exercise 2-3 times a week for 20-30 minutes. Then, you can increase slowly over time. Small steps add up to big ones. If you start small, and increase slowly over time, in time you’ll see that you are doing more than you ever thought possible. 

Get an accountability buddy

Some people are super self-motivated. They’re the types of people who wake up at 5:00 am, 5 days a week. They hit the gym for an hour, eat a 5-star nutritional breakfast, and finish up the morning with an hour long meditation. If this is you, stop reading. If it isn’t you, then congratulations, you’re a human! (not an alien). 


When you’re a human, it can be super helpful to find a workout buddy - someone to go on hikes with, run with, etc. This is helpful in part because your workout buddy will expect you to be there for the workout. This is good motivation to begin with. If you workout with them for long enough, you may even find that you simply can’t go without. 

"Gamify it"

Make exercise a competition with family members or friends, or use rewards when you hit certain goals. The type of reward or competition depends on you. Perhaps there is some kind of gadget or product you’ve just been dying to have, but you can’t justify buying it?. Maybe there’s a trip you want to go on? On the other hand, maybe you just really want that stuffed-crust meat-lovers pizza all to yourself this weekend. While that reward may be a bit counter to your goals, it can be a solid place to start!


Your health is an investment. Invest in yourself by doing what it takes to motivate you to get out there. 


Use diet to motivate exercise

Exercising can motivate you to eat healthier, but it can also work the other way around. 


What you eat has everything to do with your motivation and energy to exercise. For instance, when you’re pounding cake and donuts in the evening, you don’t really feel like waking up the next morning to go on a trail run. It’s just not natural! 


On the other hand, if you’re eating like a rock star, pounding the veggies and health foods, then you feel more vibrant, energized, and you experience more color in your life. Then, you’re good to go! Doing something as simple as eating 2-3 servings of veggies in the evenings can help boost your energy and motivation to get up the next morning. 


But this isn’t the only reason diet helps motivate you to exercise. It’s also that you are doing things to improve your health, and seeing the results, so this motivates you to do more to improve your health. It is a really wonderful cycle. 


So, if you are having a hard time exercising, then start pounding those veggies! Chomp on celery, double-fist some broccoli, grind down a carrot. Soon, you’ll be running ten miles every day!...or, you know, something like that. 

Getcho' Ruvi on

If eating fruits and veggies were easy, we’d all be doing it. Eating 10 servings of fruits and veggies each day (6-7 veggies, 3-4 fruits) is not an easy thing. 


Because diet makes such a difference in your level of motivation to get out and get active, Ruvi has been the ticket for many of our customers to get their daily servings. They start drinking it, and then they start feeling energized and charged up to do so many other things in life. They start experiencing a life of color, finally having the capacity to live the life they’ve wanted. 


If you are having a hard time getting started with an exercise routine, buy Ruvi and see how it changes the game. As you are filled with clean, long-lasting energy, you’ll find you’re up and exercising in no time. 




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