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Exercise & Mental Health: 5 Tips For Improving The Link

Admit it—after you get past that groggy morning wake-up call and those burpees that caused you to invent a new curse word, you feel practically unstoppable after you exercise. That’s because exercise has direct and immediate mental health benefits. It’s a chemical-firing physical activity that has the power to dull pain and leaves you feeling high on life.1

We know the connection between travel and mental health, but how can exercise improve mental wellbeing? And how do you strengthen that link between exercise and mental health to stay motivated, relaxed, and grounded year-round?

With practice, of course—and with a few tips from your friends. Whether you need a push to get started or a pep talk to keep you moving, we’ve got five tips to help you find that oh-so-sweet spot where exercise and mental wellbeing overlap. 

#1 Make Exercise Fun

The votes are in: zero for chores and a unanimous heck yes for fun. Instead of making your workout feel like, well, work, turn it into something you look forward to. 

Believe it or not, sweat sessions can be synonymous with a good time. Just look at how much fun oozes from the following list.

  • Roller skating
  • Dancing around your living room
  • Playing hide-and-seek with your kids—or big kids (also known as adults)
  • Trying your hand (or wrist) at Frisbee golf
  • Mushroom hunting in the woods
  • Learning to rock climb or skateboard

Where are the sweaty calisthenics, the torturous mile sprint, the endless pushups? Nowhere to be found—that’s where. 

That’s because physical exercise exists in more spaces than at that 6:00 am boot camp class. 

What is Exercise Anyway?

Let’s take a moment to get familiar with the concept of exercise. According to our handy dictionary, “exercise” is defined as “bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness.”2

So, is rollerskating bodily exertion? Yup.

Will dancing around your living room Risky-Business-style develop your physical fitness? You bet.

There are so many ways to exercise that aren’t a chore. But before you ditch your stationary bike or set fire to you gym membership key-fob, ask yourself a few questions about the kind of exercise you want to do:

  • Do you enjoy exercising indoors or outdoors?
  • Do you like to exercise alone or with a group?
  • Do you want slow or fast-paced exercise?
  • Is music helpful in keeping you moving? If so, what kind?
  • Do you prefer dynamic games to routine movements?

Once you’ve zeroed in on the kind of bodily exertion that makes your heart race with joy, you can start thinking about how to make it part of your lifestyle. 

Consider:

  • Joining an adult sports league
  • Signing up for a class, either in person or online
  • Investing in gear that inspires you to move like roller skates, a bike, or hiking boots
For the everyday athlete. Shop now!

#2 Lean Into Style

Speaking of gear—it matters. Having well-fitting shoes, a spacious gym bag, comfortable clothing, and the proper equipment for your chosen type of physical exercise will keep you safe, healthy, and inspire you to keep going day after day. 

But is being utilitarian enough? 

We know those plain white sneakers are comfy and supportive, but if they don’t make your heart zing with pleasure every time you lace them up, pick workout shoes that do. The same goes for the rest of your gear. Investing in clothing and equipment that makes you feel eager to move is absolutely worthwhile and worth the price. This gear is, after all, an investment in your physical health and mental wellbeing.

From head to toe, opt for exercise clothing and equipment that’s high-quality, durable, and correctly sized, like:

  • Sport-specific shoes in colors that make you happy
  • Breathable clothing that fits well and suits your intended physical activity
  • A fun reusable water bottle in a sporty Water Bottle Sling
  • Hats to keep you warm or sun-protected as the weather dictates
  • A Sports Tote Bag that can carry your gear—and a post-workout snack

The Link Between Biology and Self-Care

What is it about looking good that makes us feel good? And how does regular physical activity play a role in fostering better mental health? These important questions are directly linked to the concepts of fitness, beauty, and mental health. 

All of your self-care routines are vital to your mental wellbeing because they stimulate your body to release “happy hormones” that react with your brain, bringing you pleasurable feelings like happiness, wellbeing, and relaxation. Some of these hormones and neuro-signaling molecules include:3

  • Oxytocin
  • Tryptophan
  • Endorphins
  • Dopamine
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Adrenaline

Although the mechanisms and processes by which these hormones work are myriad and biologically complex, the bottom line is that you need them to feel your best. Investing in your exercise and emotional health is an investment in promoting these hormones.

Translation? Go ahead, queen—splurge on that athleisure set you’ve been eyeing for months and take it out for a spin in whatever arena brings you the most joy. 

group of people doing yoga at park

#3 Find Support Within Your Fitness Routine

Research has shown that being accountable to a friend, a group, or even a canine companion not only keeps you motivated but can also increase your appetite for adventure and your consistency within your exercise regimen.4 

When looking for a workout buddy, be sure to ask the following:

  • Do we have the same priorities?
  • Are our schedules compatible?
  • Are we at (more or less) the same level of physical fitness?

There’s no need for an interrogation-style interview with your potential workout pal but it’ll be helpful to know that your goals are somewhat aligned before you get started. 

#4 Turn Your Exercise Into a Ritual and a Priority

Strengthening the link between exercise and emotional health means knowing the value of the time spent sweating it out. Creating exercise routines that are a special ritual in your day, and furthermore, a priority over competing to-dos is essential to valuing your exercise and yourself. 

Some ways that you can make regular physical activity a priority are by:

  • Setting aside exercise time as you would for any other important appointment
  • Telling your family and friends that this time is yours and is off-limits for other activities
  • Hiring a coach or trainer to keep you on track 
  • Going easy on yourself when you miss an exercise appointment—tomorrow is a new day
  • Breaking your exercise into smaller chunks to accomplish throughout the day if you can’t find a single large block of time.

Over time—and with rigorous observance of exercise as a priority—you’ll find it easier and easier to fit regular exercise into your day and your lifestyle. The vital first step is choosing to prioritize your fitness and mental wellbeing.

#5 Be Gentle with Yourself

By gentle, we don’t necessarily mean chair yoga—but hey, don’t knock it ‘til you try it. What we do mean is that everybody falls off the exercise wagon now and then. Maybe you skipped a week of lifting, quit halfway through a road race, or let your gym membership lapse. The important thing at this point is to get back on track and not to beat yourself up about it. 

If you’re feeling blue about your regular exercise routine, it might be time to check your perspective:

  • Forgive yourself – Remember that old, well-worn adage: Fitness is a journey, not a destination.
  • Reset the goalposts – Are you reaching out for something that feels too far out of reach? If you feel defeated, reprioritize. Break your goal into smaller steps and celebrate each mini victory with a pat on the back, guilt-free takeout, or a shameless gym selfie. 
  • Start small – Start small and start anywhere. Even a walk around the block is a step in the right direction. 
Female runner stretching hands at the beach

#6 Reflect on Your Fitness Journey

Chatting with your fitness-loving friend about how far you’ve come is a good place to start, but we’d encourage you to take it even a bit further. Keeping a fitness journal, for example, does more than just allow you to pour your post-workout aches and pains onto a page. It’s also a physical space where you can track your goals, reflect on what activities have brought you the most joy, identify what affected your mood, or even rant about your day leading up to a workout. 

Plus, research shows that writing regularly in a journal has stress-busting and immune-boosting powers.5 Whether you carve out a spot directly after a workout or at the end of your day, take time to notice your mood and put your thoughts on paper.

Get Active and Feel Your Best with the BÉIS Moves Collection

Use these tips to blend mental health and physical health together into a workout smoothie that’s even better than the one at your local juice bar. Then, when you need fitness accessories that can keep up with your every move, count on the BÉIS Moves Collection.

We’ve prioritized both form and function to bring you a unique line of gym, sports, and athletic bags that support your exercise and workout goals.

Opt for The Sport Duffle on those occasions when you need extra space to pack all your gear, snacks, and cosmetics into one place. On lighter days, use The Sport Tote to store the essentials for your lunch-break jog through the park. With adjustable, padded shoulder straps, multiple compartments, mesh pockets, and a separate dirty bag for your used gym clothes, these go-to totes have it all. 

Whatever exercise you choose to enhance your mental wellbeing, let BÉIS be your cheerleader and your trusted companion. 


Sources: 

  1. Heijnen, Saskia, et al. “Neuromodulation of Aerobic Exercise-A Review.” Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers Media S.A., 7 Jan. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4703784/
  2. “Exercise Definition &  Meaning.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exercise#:~:text=1%20%3A%20the%20act%20of%20putting,practice%20work%20%3A%20drill%20math%20exercises
  3. “How Looking Good Makes You Feel Good.” Kentucky Counseling Center, 6 Feb. 2022, https://kentuckycounselingcenter.com/how-looking-good-makes-you-feel-good/
  4. “3 Reasons to Work out with a Friend.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Apr. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/spotlights/workout-buddy.html
  5. Barth, F. Diane. “Journaling Isn't Just Good for Mental Health. It Might Also Help Your Physical Health.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 18 Jan. 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/journaling-isn-t-just-good-mental-health-it-might-also-ncna1114571
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