Exercise can provide innumerable benefits – it can brighten moods, boost energy levels, eliminate stress and improve overall health. However, like any relationship, there are also some risks involved that should be taken into consideration when practicing any type of physical movement.

woman-meditatingTo keep workouts safe, positive, fun and fulfilling, here are some tips:

  1. Join a community: Whether it’s a running club or yoga studio, find a community near you immerse yourself in its culture. Take advantage of the opportunity to socialize with those who share common interests. The company and camaraderie often are great motivators for physical activity and sustained interest and participation.
  2. Find a workout buddy: Exercising is often more enjoyable with others. It not only provides accountability, but you’ll find great opportunities to socialize and build connections.
  3. Set achievable goals: One way to build confidence is working towards accomplishing a goal. Whether it’s going on a walk three times a week or to the gym before work, it’s important to set reasonable and realistic objectives; this will prevent feeling overwhelmed by goals that may be unattainable at that point.
  4. Proper nutrition: Nutrition is an integral part to health and wellness, and especially important when engaging in regular exercise. Our bodies need proper nutrients to remain strong and active. Never forget a recovery snack and extra fluids, especially on days with more intense workouts.
  5. Try a fun workout class: Is there an interesting class you’ve been wanting to try? The great news is that there is one for almost any activity imaginable, from cardio-dance to relaxing tai chi to surf yoga and cycling karaoke. Find a class at your local gym or in a nearby studio and try it out! Usually studios give discounts to first-time participants.
  6. Listen to your body: Have you heard the saying, “No pain, no gain”? Well, I always advocate taking the opposite approach. If you feel pain, especially over an extended period of time, there is a real possibility that you are NOT benefiting. Always listen to your body and what it’s telling you on a daily – if not hourly – basis. Slow down or take a few days off if its saying it’s tired or hurting.
  7. Take rest days: Everyone needs rest. Developing a healthy relationship with exercise means occasionally gaining some distance from it! If you are used to running every day, take a day to relax and stretch outdoors in the sunshine. This will also help you more appreciate the days you are exercising.
  8. Do what works for you: Everyone is unique. We all benefit from different types of exercises and various movements. If there’s something that works for you, do it! It doesn’t matter what other people are doing or what the latest fad is: if it makes you happy and it’s something you truly enjoy, that’s what matters most.
  9. Know the warning signs: If exercising starts to feel like a chore or something you don’t look forward to, that might be a sign to take a step back. Sometimes it can be as simple as changing around your daily routine, such as working out in the morning rather than the evening or participating in a new type of activity. Variety can be the remedy to burnout and injuries!
  10. Set a positive intention: Every time you work out, think about what exercise can do for you. Rather than paying attention to the more visible or physical attributes of exercise, focus on your mood, mental and emotional mind states. How you feel is much more important than how you look. Never forget to express gratitude to your body for allowing you to be physically active.

Sure, you might have your days of frustration or feeling your performance wasn’t as expected. But following these tips will ensure more good days to outweigh the tough ones!

Do you feel you’re often lacking a positive mindset with exercise? We’re here to help.

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lacey-vogelLacey Vogel, MA has been a runner since the age of 13 and was a varsity letter winner at Washington University in St. Louis. She saw firsthand the challenges eating disorders brought to her teammates, some of which were career-ending. She is a GOALS program clinician and conducts stimulating cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) groups for program participants. Lacey received her M.A. degree in Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine at Boston University and was an intern at the Walden residential, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient eating disorder programs in Waltham prior to her role as primary clinician.