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Ditch The Dreadmill – Find The Fun In Exercise And Boost Your Mental Health

Allison Liu, a brain health coach and expert in helping people get their brain younger, healthier and stronger, struggled with early warning signs of memory loss in her late forties. Forgetting what she was saying in the middle of saying it, feeling increasingly irritable and struggling with panic attacks, she felt she was losing her sense of self. Adopting a science-based approach,

 
Executive Contributor Allison Liu

Traditional gym culture and school sports can leave some of us with less-than-fond memories. The pressure to perform and the feeling of falling behind – it is no wonder some people shy away from exercise altogether. But what if I told you that getting active does not have to look anything like that?


Group of friends jogging in the rain.

Re-thinking exercise

Physical activity is not just about sculpted bodies and athletic feats; it is a powerful tool for boosting mental well-being. Studies consistently show that exercise can reduce stress, combat anxiety, improve mood, and even enhance cognitive function. The key? Finding activities you genuinely enjoy, not just activities that seem like you "should" be doing.


Take my story for example. School sports were an exercise in frustration for me. I dreaded every run around the track, felt clumsy doing athletics, and could barely throw a ball. The result? Humiliation and exhaustion, leaving me convinced exercise was not for me. But then I realized something revolutionary: movement does not have to be confined to traditional sports.


The moment I embraced activities I found fun, everything changed. Instead of holding onto the belief that exercise meant jogging around my neighbourhood, I discovered the joy of walking in nature, rowing while watching something that makes me laugh, and table tennis, to name a few. Exercise went from a chore to a source of happiness, and that's when I truly fell in love with moving my body. This is the magic of finding activities that fit your unique personality and lifestyle. Here is why it matters:


Enjoyment is the key to motivation

The key to sticking with an exercise routine lies in finding activities you genuinely enjoy. When exercise becomes a source of pleasure, not just exertion, you'll find yourself looking forward to your workouts rather than dreading them. Find activities that become a source of joy, not just a means to an end or a hurdle to overcome.


Variety keeps things interesting

Our bodies are remarkably adaptable. Sticking to the same routine can lead to boredom and a plateau in progress. Here is where variety becomes your secret weapon! Mixing things up with different activities keeps your workouts fresh, and exciting, and challenges your body in new ways.


Accessibility is everything

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise. From gentle yoga flows that improve flexibility and mindfulness to refreshing swims that offer low-impact endurance building, there is something for everyone. Do not limit yourself; explore different options until you find activities that work for your fitness level, interests, and any physical limitations you might have.


7 ways to find your groove


1. Identify your interests

What activities do you naturally gravitate towards? Do you enjoy the rhythm of music? The social aspect of group activities? The quiet focus of solo workouts? Reflecting on your preferences will help you narrow down the options.


2. Start small and celebrate milestones

Do not try to overhaul your entire routine overnight. Begin with short, manageable sessions that fit comfortably into your schedule. As you build consistency, gradually increase the duration or intensity. Remember to celebrate every step of the way.


3. Make it social

Working out with a friend or joining a group fitness class can add a layer of fun and accountability. The shared experience can be motivating and help you stay on track. Is there someone you already enjoy spending time with who you could ask to be your workout buddy?


4. Entertainment is your friend

Create a workout playlist filled with music that energies and inspires you. The right soundtrack can elevate your mood and make even the toughest workout feel more enjoyable. Alternatively, listen to an engaging podcast and learn while you walk, run, or row.


5. Track your progress

Seeing your progress can be a powerful motivator. Use a fitness tracker, keep a workout journal, or simply take note of how much stronger or more energized you feel. Doing so will boost your sense of reward and help you stay motivated.


6. Make your intentions visible

Let your friends and family know about your commitment to getting active. Sharing your goals on social media (if you're comfortable with it) can be a great way to build a support system. By publicly declaring your intentions, you will not only feel more accountable, but you might also inspire others and receive encouraging messages along the way.


7. Embrace the journey

Focus on the process, not just the end goal. Enjoy the way your body moves, appreciate the fresh air on your face, and celebrate the sense of accomplishment after a good workout.


Start your journey today: It's easier than you think

Setting yourself up to do regular physical activity may feel overwhelming when you have not done anything for a while, so start small. The ultimate goal is to find activities that make you feel good, both physically and mentally. Let go of preconceived notions about what exercise "should" look like, and embrace the joy of movement in all its forms. If you want personalised strategies for improving your health and well-being, book a coaching call today. Don't wait to get started on your journey to a sharper mind, a brighter mood, and a stronger you!


Related article: Five Benefits Of Exercise To Mental Health

 

Allison Liu, Brain Health & Memory Rescue Coach

Allison Liu, a brain health coach and expert in helping people get their brain younger, healthier and stronger, struggled with early warning signs of memory loss in her late forties. Forgetting what she was saying in the middle of saying it, feeling increasingly irritable and struggling with panic attacks, she felt she was losing her sense of self. Adopting a science-based approach, which she uses with her clients today, she increased her own ‘brain reserve’, improving her memory, mood and relationships. She now coaches clients around the world through a personalised plan to prevent or slow down cognitive decline so they can remain present with those they love. Her mission: Staying sharp for life.

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