By: Tora Matys

Mental health goes hand in hand with physical health. When I look back on my life, I can draw a correlation from depressive episodes to going full potato. Even now, when I fall into a rut and stop working out I can feel it within days in both my mind and body. I know everybody says that fitness cures depression…and as wrong as they are…they are kind of right. While it may not be a cure, it definitely alleviates some of the symptoms. When you work out, endorphins are released reducing stress levels and leaving you feeling a little happier.

I understand how hard it is to get to that gym when you just want to drown in a bucket of ice cream, but the beauty of fitness is, like emotions, it isn’t black and white. There’s no right or wrong way to get the blood flowing and the endorphins pumping (except not doing it at all). Fitness is anything from making yourself a religious weightlifting schedule to taking up geocaching and getting a few more steps in. Find a way to make your hobby your exercise and it’s suddenly not a chore. But before you decide on how to tackle your new fitness plan, you have to pinpoint why you are feeling like you do. Not every exercise helps everything.

When your feeling stressed out, angry, and just ready to punch everyone in the face. I suggest hitting those weights. Remember to start with a 5-10 minute warm-up, I usually go for a short run to start. Pumping the iron will release all that tension in you and exhaust your body, leaving you too pooped to even be angry.

You can weight train one of two ways (or I guess technically both if you really want). If you don’t want to gain too much muscle, then keep the weight low and the reps and sets high, but if you want a short and powerful tiring lift sesh, boost the weight and drop the reps to less than 15 per sent.

For those anxious and depressed times, yoga is my go to. Not only is it a slower paced work out, really focusing on control and balance, but it teaches you breathing techniques and as well mindfulness. Yoga is all about focusing your breath and clearing your mind, which sometimes can be a challenge for me with everything on my plate. It’s not as physically straining as weight lifting, but still shows results. Yoga is good for toning your body and learning to meditate for short periods of time.

You don’t have to hit the gym to exercise, even something as simple as a walk counts. Walking still releases endorphins and gets you moving. It also teaches you how to be mindful and find smaller pleasures, like the smell of fresh rain or the yellow of a dandelion against the green grass. You can also trick yourself into exercising by going for hikes on the many walking paths around Edmonton. Bring your camera and turn it into a photo session or try geocaching and look for life’s little pleasures.

Whatever you chose to do, just do it. Make yourself small attainable goals to give yourself a tangible measurable success, the smallest success makes you feel better. Give yourself the “me” time we all deserve and need. You can’t perform mentally if your body isn’t with it and vice versa. Even if it’s for only 30 minutes every other day, stick to it and before no time you will feel like a new person.

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