Exercising and Anxiety: Ways to Motivate Yourself to Get Active

I was told time and time again that exercise would help my anxiety. I was hesitant to believe it would have any major effect on what I was feeling. But after talking with a counselor, my parents, and my friends, I finally took the steps to try exercise as a method to channel my anxious thoughts. Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment that relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins.

Although I was a serious athlete in high school, I struggled to maintain my competitive spirit in college. The hardest part for me was motivating myself to get out and go to the gym. After lots of time and research, I finally found methods for motivating myself to exercise that worked for me.

Find a Workout Buddy

I have always struggled in self-motivating to go to the gym as a college student. I discussed my hesitations with my roommates and found that they felt similar to me. We decided to set a plan to go to the gym together on specific days each week. Having a friend to motivate me to get out of bed in the morning and head to the gym made it so much easier. A workout buddy provides support and a feeling of belonging if you are struggling to self-motivate.

Try a Fitness Class

I dreaded stepping foot on a treadmill or elliptical at the gym. I decided that if I wanted to be committed to coping with anxiety through exercise, I needed to try some fitness classes that were out of my comfort zone. I have been doing hot yoga for three weeks now and can honestly say that it has changed my perspective on working out. I am finally excited to exercise and feel good about how my mindset has changed by trying something that I had never done before.

Follow Body Positive Influencers

The gym culture at my college can be very intimidating — I felt insecure in my knowledge of using machines and weights alongside frequent gym-goers. I found that there are so many body positive fitness influencers on Instagram who share simple, at-home workout routines. Some of my favorites are @ivfitness and @cindyyufitness.

Exercising has become an amazing outlet for my anxiety. It is important to note that sometimes I felt guilty if I decided to skip going to the gym or cancelled my hot yoga class last minute. You have to reassure yourself that one missed workout is not anything to feel ashamed about. Be proud that you are taking steps to better your mental health, whether that’s implementing a strict workout plan or trying out a new class once in a while. Studies have suggested that a 10-minute walk may just be as good as a 45-minute workout for relieving anxiety and depression.

How do you incorporate activity, no matter how intense, in your daily life? If you have an active lifestyle, what motivates you to do it? How does it make you feel?

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