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Journeys to recovery: Exercise - tips to get you started

Evidence suggests that exercise can help improve our mental health as well as our physical health.

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We have all heard how important exercise is for our physical health. Along with the many physical benefits of exercise, there is lots of evidence that it can improve our mental health too.

Regular exercise can:

  • Lift mood
  • Ease stress, tension and mental fatigue
  • Boost energy and motivation
  • Increase self-esteem and a sense of achievement
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Create social connection
  • Bring joy and happiness.

Perinatal anxiety and depression alter how we think and feel and can leave us feeling trapped, robbed of the energy and motivation to exercise, or too agitated and stressed to be able to plan anything.

Here are some tips to get you started on building exercise into your daily life. The key is to take small and achievable steps:

  • Set achievable goals that you can succeed at and build upon.
  • Increase activity levels gradually. Gardening, a brisk walk around the block or to the shops might be easier than a marathon first up!
  • Do what is enjoyable. Any activity that gets you moving will make a difference.
  • If you can, include other people. Exercising with family and friends can build on feelings of connectedness and provide opportunities to socialise.
  • Make a plan. Schedule your activity or workout at a time of the day when your energy is at its highest. Try to stick to your plan but be flexible to allow for life to happen.
  • Consider what exercise you can do with your baby – a gym that has a crèche, swimming/water familiarisation, join a pram walking group (or start one), do mum and bub pilates/yoga.

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Everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting is unique and brings different rewards and challenges. Our mental health checklist can help you to see if what you’re experiencing or observing in a loved one could be a reason to seek help.