Exercise makes a big difference in our mental health, even for those who do not have a mental illness. It makes us feel happier, more balanced, and allows us to focus better. In the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. John Ratey talks about finding the power of exercise and the brain when a school teacher started having her students run on a treadmill each day. His book is amazing and speaks to one of the most important aspects of exercising for brain health, it must be done at a high level, at an aerobic level. While we are often told just 30 minutes of walking three times a week in enough, it is not enough for mental health, especially not for people with mental illness.
That is why my husband got me the gift of CrossFit for my birthday. We needed to make sure I had an exercise which is scheduled so I will show up, and that gets my heartrate up so I feel better. We have done two half marathons together so I know high intensity exercise works to treat my bipolar disorder, but it is often hard to actually stick with exercise when your illness is at it's worst. You need to have as many safeguards as possible to keep you exercising. The author of the blog Lithium and Lamictal writes about this in her post called Spinning.
|At a 5K benefiting the Alzheimer's Association|
So, take a class where someone will notice if you miss, workout with a friend, sign up for a 5K or even a marathon which requires that you train consistently. Read up on exercise and the brain and write down all of the benefits in a place where you can see the list so you always remember to exercise, even when you don't want to. Check out the links I have above in this post, and for information on how exercise helps for ADD, read Riding is My Ritalin.