Physical activity: how to find motivation and perseverance

Have you ever wondered how many, and what, positive effects you can trigger in the body even with a minimum of daily physical activity, such as a simple walk for example?

And why it is important to acquire a few simple habits to improve your overall well-being?

Stress, anxiety, and depression can benefit from physical activity. Not only walking, maybe done at a little pace, but also swimming or simply riding a bike.

Clinical studies, such as that of Carek1 have shown how exercise can be used as a treatment for depression, both on its own, or as an aid in improving symptoms when used together with medication.

But how does physical exercise do this?

Exercise acts on the connections between neurons, which are improved, enhancing cognitive abilities as well: learning and memory benefit from constant physical activity. The production of neurotransmitters is stimulated too: in particular endorphins produce a feeling of both well-being and euphoria, improving the mood.

But physical activity also helps to reduce stress and therefore has a positive action on all consequences, which are many, that stress brings with it. In addition, being active helps in reducing the risk of obesity, and acts as a cardiovascular protector against hypertension and, in general, against cardiovascular diseases.

According to the WHO, globally, a sedentary lifestyle is the fourth-largest risk factor for mortality and one in four adults do not exercise enough.

So, let’s ask ourselves: how we can increase our activity?

First of all, we must have a motivation, a reason for moving. Better a positive motivation: if we move only driven by guilt or because we have read alarming messages about being sedentary, usually we will soon stop exercising. So, it’s important to define a precise and rewarding goal that is going to lead us to do physical activity.

Making a list of the goals you want to achieve will help, as long as these goals are realistic.

We then make physical activity a well-established habit. In this regard, it is useful for physical activity to become a commitment like any other: so, we mark on the agenda the date and time dedicated to exercise, just as we would for any other appointment.

But if we have to choose an activity, or even a group of activities, is better to choose something that we like: it will be easier to do it consistently.

Currently the technology, via apps and smartwatches, allows you to monitor the activity performed and the progress made. This certainly increases motivation, as does keeping a journal where you should mark not only physical progress, but psychological progress too, such as feeling relaxed or being able to deal with everyday problems with a positive spirit.

It also helps to do activities with a friend or a family member, to share your progress and to motivate each other.

Sometimes it is easier to say: I don’t have time, I have to work, I’m tired, etc. The important thing is to be able to set priorities, enhance yourself, so that finding your place will be automatic. But be careful not to fall into the opposite excess, flexibility is also important, if you need a break from exercise, take it, the important thing is to get back into exercising as soon as possible, maybe even more energized and motivated.

Too hard to do on your own? A professional can help you finding both the right motivation and the consistency to take care of yourself.

Dr. Patrizia Pietropaolo

 

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