Exercise & Mental Health
Sunday, January 06, 2013
Thanks to a severe leg injury that took a very long time to fully heal (and still gives me a lot of pain), my physical fitness is not only in the toilet, it's down the drain, past the treatment plant, and out to sea. It's been nearly three years since I was last exercising consistently. I have no muscle tone, especially in my core and lower half, because the nature of my injury meant that I was stuck lying down most of the time.
I have a great deal of work to do to regain the fitness that I lost. I also want to build on that and be even stronger, because I think becoming physically healthy will be an important boost for my mental health (I live with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder).
Over the past few months I've been struggling with exercise. I realize now that that's mainly because I've been trying to do too much, and pushing myself too hard. Walking, especially down hills, is physically painful for me at the moment, and I live in a very hilly area. I was forcing myself to go out on long walks and returning in so much pain that I was taking myself back to bed for a couple of days every time. I became extremely demoralized all over again and eventually stopped trying at all.
I'd totally forgotten that there were other ways of exercising, and I'm thrilled at all the alternatives the SparkPeople site is showing me. Seriously, I had no idea I could get a decent cardio workout by sitting down, but the 11-minute seated cardio video is really perfect for my fitness level right now, and my leg doesn't ache afterwards.
I'm actually beginning to understand why people enjoy exercising. After I finish, I feel really good. My physical energy is lower, of course, but my mental energy increases. I've been living with mental illness for almost 20 years and have almost always known that exercise helps depression, but this is the first time I'm really seeing those results for myself.