How to build a healthy relationship with exercise.

How to build a healthy relationship with exercise.

If I asked you what your relationship with exercise is like, what would you tell me?  

  • Are you smitten to the point that you neglect other areas of your life?

  • Do you hate it?

  • Is it like that irritating friend of a friend, you tolerate the fact that it exists, but you will do you best to not be in the same room?

  • Is it the school bully that is telling you that you are worthless and not enough?

  • Is a relationship you have daily, weekly, not as often as you would like or that you have too much of?

How to build a healthy relationship with exercise. Top tips & tricks from an occupational therapist & personal trainer

I am going to give you my top tips for creating a healthy relationship with exercise. By a healthy relationship I mean that you exercise for nourishment and it is something that you do as a regular part of your self-care, adapting it to what you need at any given time.

But first let me tell you a secret: It is not easy. If it was easy there wouldn’t be thousands of companies out there making profit selling you the latest way to be strong, slim, fast, relaxed.

Allow your relationship with exercise to be imperfect and accept this but also commit to change. The way you feel, do or don’t do exercise will not change unless you do something different. So there needs to be something new that you are intentionally doing. 

Tip 1. Recognise your current feelings and motivation towards exercise. 

Do these serve you and help you? Yes – keep doing what you are doing. No- then seek out to do the opposite. 

So may times in work I hear of someone saying oh I ate that chocolate so now I have to go to the gym – the unspoken part of this is “I need to punish myself and burn off the chocolate. You do not need to punish yourself. Challenge yourself to do some movement that will be kinder or to be still and not exercise.

Tip 2. Do not expect something that is nourishing to always feel nice.

I mean, unless you are an adrenaline junky its going to be rare to enjoy the sensation of your heartrate rising and sweat glistening and yes muscles my ache the following day. However It does get easier so take note of the elements of the movement you do enjoy, does it feel good to finally get into the rhythm of doing that move? Does your head feel clearer afterwards? 

Tip 3. Set goals but keep checking in as to why the goal is important to you.

Is that underpinning importance serving you? Is it a value you have and is it sustainable? What are you hoping the difference that the end result will be and what will your life be like for it?

Tip 4 Change “I should” to “I would like to”

“I should” is basically a way offsetting yourself rules that can result in your  beating yourself up or sticking to even though it is not in your interest. By framing it as “I would like” 

Tip 5. Try out different types of exercise. 

I hated exercise in school. If I had let that experience shape my entire perspective, then I would never get moving. There is something for you, you may prefer solitary activity, you may prefer a group, you may prefer cardio or strength, you may prefer the bright outdoors or in a dark room. Allow yourself to experience these things.

Tips for building a healthy relationship with exercise

Finally, if your relationship is damaging ask help. You might find yourself back in that unhealthy relationship more times than you would like to admit but with the support around you it can and will change. Speak to a friend, a doctor or an exercise professional.

Comment below ways you have maintained a healthy relationship with exercise!

How to build a healthy relationship with exercise by a occupational and personal trainer

Sarah is an Occupational Therapist and personal trainer who is passionate about helping people flourish @MoodLifterPT She is always happy to be contacted if you want to find out more. Find her blog here!