Putting the “Fun” in Fundamentals of Movement: Mental Health and Exercise Physiology

Putting the “Fun” in Fundamentals of Movement: Mental Health and Exercise Physiology

Why do I talk about movement in the context of mental health? Most of us use exercise as a method of maintaining our mental health. If we start experiencing pain in our back when we run, squat, do push ups, pick up our kids of the canine, feline, and primate variety; we tend to not want to do those things anymore and our mental health can suffer from that.

So I’m going to paint a word picture for you:

“But Michael, I like doing group fitness because it takes my mind of things and I don’t have to think about what I’m doing”

I hear this one a lot. What I also hear a lot is….

“I don’t do squats, it hurts my knees”

Standard image of myself making sure Tom is having fun with his fundamentals

Okay, so you enjoy the group-based environment but you are unable to partake in certain exercises because of knee pain? Why don’t you get someone to have a look at those knees, hips, ankles, back or whatever else could be the cause of that knee pain? 

“Use it, or lose it”

“Motion is lotion”

Your body is a lot to think about. You do enough thinking during the day when trying to organise meetings, projects, kids, clients, orders. Why should you add something else to the mix and stress you out further? 

Moving efficiently is all about making small wins for yourself and changing your mindset about movement-based challenges. Once we’re able to get a roll going with these small wins, the fundamentals are going to feel so much better and you’re going to experience far less stress. Couldn’t feel your hamstrings during a deadlift but now you can? You had back pain but managed to feel your glutes firing and that back pain has disappeared? That’s a success right there. It gets you pumped. It gets me pumped. These wins will echo into your daily routine, reducing the stress and anxiety of your daily grind.

My biggest challenge in the mental health field is trying to get people to care about how their body moves and have fun while doing it. If your body moves well, you’re much less likely to end up in pain. If you’re not in pain, you’re going to want to keep moving. You keep moving, you hit your health and fitness goals, your brain will thank you for it.

Strength training and moving well is not just good for your pain, it’s good for your mind.