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01 Sep, 2022

The Mind-Body Connection with Sarah Elliott

Looking for an extra bit of motivation to get moving? Sometimes it can come easy to book and show up to class or tie up the trainers and get out, but sometimes we need a little bit of help to get us back on track and to prioritise our physical health. Keep reading the below if you want to get excited about exercise again as we explore the ‘why’ behind exercise and give you tangible tools to use when you need that extra boost of encouragement!


Often when we’re struggling to stay committed to something it’s because we’ve lost sight of our attachment to the ‘why,’ and forgotten what that thing/habit/behaviour really signifies and does for us in the long run. So try and ask yourself: Why did I start/choose to begin this in the first place? Why is exercise important to me?

Habits take commitment & commitment can feel like work. Try not to be put off by feeling challenged or doubting yourself from time to time. It is completely normal to feel de-motivated or to question yourself, just don’t let that be a stronger voice than the one that says, ‘this is worth it and this is important to me!” Feeling demotivated/doubtful is normal, just don’t act on it! Focus on the benefits to help outweigh the hard parts.

Exercise is a form of self care and it’s important to show up for ourselves just as much as we show up for everyone else around us (you know the analogy of putting on your oxygen mask on a plane before helping anyone else?) The first priority of exercise should be towards supporting your mental health and the secondary is the physical benefits. Accomplishments and goal setting release dopamine which allow us to feel good about ourselves so by setting realistic but exciting goals (ie. schedule 3 workouts a week for a month with 3 different friends) we are facilitating a beneficial hormonal release that we can carry throughout the week. Metabolic improvements and hormonal releases from exercise can have a lasting effect of up to 72 hours so it’s not just ‘feel good in the moment’ it has a longer positive impact on our mental health.

Why should mental health be your first priority with movement, before physicality?

It’s no surprise that how we look can have an impact on how we feel about ourselves but we are more than just how our bodies look. If we focus first on solidifying a stronger sense of self from within and building a resilient self esteem then exercise just supports that in physical form. Our mental health can have a direct impact on our physical health which is why placing it as the first priority will help ensure that your habits are coming from a place that will be able to be sustainable.

How can running, in particular, be beneficial for your mental health?

Running is low cost and can be done almost anywhere, which makes it accessible and an easy choice. The mental health benefits of running are that it releases endorphins and boosts serotonin levels which both contribute to feeling happier and more confident. There’s also the symbolism of running that can help someone feel as if they are moving forwards which directly links to the universal need to experience growth. Running, due to its stable, consistent manner, can be an excellent form of exercise to practice mindfulness. Versus HITT workouts or more varied exercises, Running can allow for focus and can help your mind narrow into your breath. By practicing mindfulness you allow your mind to settle thoughts and switch into being mode.

3 tips on how to fall in love with fitness if it doesn’t come naturally?

If exercise doesn’t come naturally to you, you’re not alone. Remember that it’s ok for exercise not to be your top priority but it’s about understanding how movement plays a role in our wellbeing.

1.) Find ways to incorporate movement into the things you already enjoy doing (ie. bike riding while visiting a new city, switch to audio books while taking a walk). Don’t neglect that the little things add up (walk the stairs vs taking the lift, get a standing desk, do walking meetings with your manager/direct reports.

2.) Another way to appreciate fitness is to involve others/ and make sure you’re surrounded by people that support you! Do your research and find instructors/coaches/classes where you feel included and appreciated. And make it fun! Try finding group classes with themes that interest you (ie. Dolly Parton dance classes or 90s pop cycle classes).

I don’t believe that you can love something else, until you love yourself, so if you’re struggling to fall in love with fitness, it might be good to understand if in fact you’re actually holding yourself back because of self doubt or fear. If you can instil a ‘self belief’ mentality then you’ll start to see the opportunities in life and you’ll more easily lean into things that are out of your comfort zone.

What do you do to motivate you to exercise when you feel you are in a mental rut?

When I’m in a mental rut, I start by telling myself that experiencing that is normal and then I see it as an opportunity. I use a rut as a chance to switch things up. The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting the same result. If I’m not feeling motivated then I find NEW ways to move, I search out new classes/studios or if I’m feeling bold, I’ll learn a new form of exercise. I recently decided to sign up and learn how to play tennis to re-inspire my drive for movement and by having a coach it’ll keep my accountable, plus it's a people sport so I can meet new club members which helps my social wellbeing too!

Remember that hiring a coach is a great way to get started, to help provide you tools, support, added motivation and skills. You don’t need to go at it alone and it’s always ok to ask for help!