How Exercise Can Actually Be Bad For Your Long Term Mental Health

Mike Coval
May 14, 2021

Now, the majority of us engage in exercise initially because we want to look better.

Along the way, we start to realize that there are other awesome benefits of exercise such as increased strength, increased confidence, and being able to do everyday activities more efficiently, and these along with other benefits can help us through times where we aren't seeing the number on the scale budge, our appearance in the mirror change, or our clothes fit differently.

But, what about those that don't see those other benefits, or maybe they do but they don't appreciate them? What do they do when the tough gets going?

The likelihood that they make exercise a part of their long-term lifestyle are very slim.

This is where things get bad. This individual will probably have multiple attempts to look better by engaging in physical activity throughout their life and each attempt they will be less healthy than the last time all because they didn't have what they perceived to be success and they stopped working out.

If you fall into the latter category (exercising, but not seeing progress and are ready to give up), then I highly encourage you to do a few things.

1) Reflect and ask yourself what you're really chasing here. I totally get and respect that you want to look better, but is that the only thing that is important? If so, then why so? I'm sure your answer will help you realize that this is more than just looking better.

2) Hire a professional. I don't have any spaces available, but I'm happy to refer you to someone who can help you. Just shoot me an email.

3) Once you outsource your exercise (aka hire a trainer), then focus on one small lifestyle habit a time. Even if it seems so miniscule that you perceive it to be a waste of time because you believe there's no way it will have immediate impact on your success. You might be right about the immediate impact, but being able to "habit stack" is highly underrated and has tremendous impact on your long-term success.

Does your sleep suck? Cool. Start small. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier. Or, if you don't already, set a bed time.

Snack too much late at night? Make life easy. Toss out the foods that you snack on. Aren't ready for that? Okay, cool. Portion off your snacks and start there.

If you were saving up for a down payment on a new house, you wouldn't expect yourself to put your entire paycheck into savings for the next 26 paychecks. You'd have no cash flow to live! You start small by taking a realistic amount from each paycheck and putting away. Maybe after a couple months you start to cut back spending so you can put more of your paycheck away for the down payment on your new home.

The same applies to your health. It's a long-term game. Start small, be consistent, keep adding habits that gradually have greater impact on your health and wellness, and then over time you will see the results that you're looking for. Including looking like a much leaner, better performing, and mentally healthier version of yourself.

Then there's the discussion of folks having the mindset of only working out so that they look better which is another rabbit hole that we could go down, but I'll save that for another time.

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Mike Coval

Coval Fitness is a Personal Training Studio and Gym in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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