Contemplating while you exercise is good for your body and your mind

Autumn in Maine

Guest post by John Turrell, Wellness Coordinator, Greater Portland Branch, YMCA of Southern Maine.

Who didn’t want to exercise outdoors this fall?

September and October were beautiful this year. There were so many sunny, cool fall days to spend outside running, walking, or hiking. The fall foliage was colorful and visually stimulating. It was hard to resist spending as much time as possible outside.

November and December are often a different story. They can be difficult months for outdoor exercise, and many people lose their motivation. Cloudy days are common. Even when the sun is out, it’s low in the sky and sets early in the afternoon. The outdoors feels damp and cold. We have more incentive to curl up on the couch with a bright light and a book than to head outside.

A snowy winter is often more enticing. The sun reflecting off the white snow gives a sense of brightness. The snow also offers new types of fun exercise not available any other time of the year. But, these winter activities will probably not be available until January.

So how do we find the motivation to move during the months of gloomy November and December? This may take some mental effort, but I have a few ideas.

We can always head to the gym. If you’re lucky, there’s also an indoor pool in your community. I may have a bias, but I’d check out the YMCA which offers great programs year round. We have group exercise classes and a pool for swimming. We also have cardio and strength exercise equipment.

Woman and dog walking in late fall
Another option is to view November and December as a time for contemplation exercise. All the other seasons offer us outdoor visual excitement to keep us entertained.  Now is a good time to turn our mental focus inward and contemplate meaning of life ideas.

While jogging, walking, or hiking, we can contemplate all that we are thankful for in our lives. We can then plan positive and meaningful activities we would like to accomplish in our future.

However and wherever you do it, keeping our bodies moving is important. It not only promotes our physical health, it’s also good for our mental well-being.  Adding contemplation to our routine helps keep us aware of our progress through life. And that’s good for the soul!

Guest post by John Turrell, Wellness Coordinator, Greater Portland Branch, YMCA of Southern Maine.

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.