Want to exercise, but just can’t seem to get moving? When it comes to health and fitness, your state of mind, or emotional conditioning, is as important as your physical conditioning. Here's some tips from the Arthritis Foundation to help get you mentally prepared for physical fitness.
Results of a recent study show that fear of pain (not pain itself) ranked as the No. 1 barrier preventing people with arthritis from exercising. Other mental hurdles, like a lack of motivation and not enjoying exercise, also ranked high.
Few people focus on the mental aspects of physical fitness, whether it’s overcoming injury-related anxiety or simply getting motivated to lace up your sneakers each day. Changing your mind-set can help you live a more active life. So, before you exercise, get your mind ready.
So how do you get your mind and your body prepared for exercise? Follow these three emotional conditioning tips:
1.Be flexible. People who adjusted their exercise routine to accommodate their arthritis are more likely to keep exercising than those who don’t. Avoid an all-or-nothing mentality. If your knees hurt, resolve to walk more slowly. If you’re stiff in the morning, then exercise in the evenings. Or cut the length of your workout in half, if you’re really sore. Having a Plan B keeps you from giving up when things seem tough.
2.Focus on the benefits. People who exercise regularly do so because they believe it makes them feel better, promotes weight loss and increases their ability to move. Reminding yourself of how good exercise is for your health can motivate you to make the effort, even when you’re feeling tired, sore or nervous.
3.Soothe yourself. Being anxious or afraid can amplify pain, which is why it’s important to get calm before you get moving. Before you start exercising, spend several minutes breathing deeply while picturing yourself doing your chosen activity. Also practice positive self-talk before and during exercise, saying or thinking phrases like “I can do this,” and “I feel pain, but doing this will help me feel less pain.”