Many studies have linked exercise to a decrease in depression, anxiety and other troublesome mental conditions. However, the concept of exercise for someone who lacks motivation to do anything whatsoever can still be daunting.
Susan Levy, a professor in the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University, said in an e-mail that “exercise can benefit a woman’s mental and emotional states.”
Here are some ways she said that exercise can improve women’s lives, according to research:
-improved physical self-worth and self-image
-reduced anxiety (particularly about the body)
-greater physical acceptance (despite “flaws”)
Levy said it’s common for everyone to drop fitness routines when there are other distractions.
“A big key to successfully sticking with exercise is to incorporate your exercise into your day-to-day routine, so that it becomes part of your lifestyle, sort of like brushing your teeth,” Levy said, “rather than something you feel you're always trying to squeeze into your schedule somewhere.”
However, some inconsistencies can be fixed by just changing the type of exercise. For example, if you only run while working out, try hiking or biking instead every once in a while.
“Having an 'exercise buddy' can also be helpful, as you become accountable to someone else, and for some exercising with someone increases the fun factor,” Levy said.
For a woman who has not been exercising in a while, gradually exercising is key.
“It would be self-defeating to ask a previously sedentary woman to start vigorously exercising five times a week for an hour at a time,” Levy said. “It's important to experience success when considering goals for increasing physical activity.”
In such a case, doing something fun that requires exercise two to three times a week would be a good start, she said. Other simple ways to get exercise into the schedule are to park farther away in the parking lot, walk or bike instead of driving, and use the stairs instead of being lazy and taking the escalator or elevator.