With the new year upon us, it is easy to find friends who are pledging to change their fitness routines. These resolutions are excellent ones to attempt, but not always successful. However, taking time this year to devote to fitness can not only give you a healthier body; your dedication to a new fitness routine can also benefit your mental health.

Multiple research studies have shown the benefits of fitness, exercise, and movement in regards to different mental illnesses. For example, the Mayo Clinic cites that exercise can ease symptoms of major depression and anxiety as well as decreasing side effects caused by stress. Whether you choose yoga or running, walking or kickboxing, moving with purpose can benefit your self-esteem and give you a coping skill to add to your toolbelt to manage your illness.

Find something you love.
If you are new to fitness or perhaps restarting your commitment, the first thing you should do to start your journey is to experiment with different options until you find something you love. Some people love group fitness classes while others prefer a solitary experience. Will you love a centering yoga class or a loud spinning class? You’ll never know what you what challenges you in a good way until you try a few options.

Consider looking at your local park district or gym to find different classes, and don’t stop until you find something that doesn’t feel like an obligation. Instead, find a fitness avenue that makes you excited to lace up and go.

Find a buddy.
Motivation to work out can be a challenge for all of us, even if we love what we have scheduled. Finding a work out buddy or accountability partner can get you to the gym or on the road easier than if you tried to go on your own. Consider asking a friend to take a class with you or work out an accountability plan with your therapist to keep you on track with your fitness commitment.

Find time in your schedule.
As you experiment with what types of fitness you like and what keeps you accountable, also find what time of day is best for you to plan your fitness time. Perhaps walking after work is best for you, or maybe it’s an early morning tai chi class before the sun rises. Whatever works for you, commit to your fitness schedule just like you would for your school classes or work meetings. Write them in your planner in ink and stick to it.

Find your rewards.
Finally, reward yourself for your fitness journey as you go. Notice your emotional and physical changes after a month of your fitness journey and remind yourself that you feel better when you take a walk or hit the tennis courts. Treat yourself to a new pair of shoes after you meet a short-term goal, and remember those moments of accomplishments when the alarm goes off and you really don’t feel like going to the gym.

Be sure to let your therapist know about your new commitment to fitness so that they can help you prioritize and guide you through the process. No matter if you are just starting with walking around the block or training for a marathon – any type of conscious movement can give you the emotional and physical benefits you’ll love.

Good luck!

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