Why Counselors Use Exercise As Mental Health Treatment

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Regular exercise has many benefits to our body. It can help decrease your risk for heart diseases, diabetes, and other health problems. But did you know that exercise can also affect your brain?

Many studies have proved the role of exercise in reducing the risk of depression and anxiety. Exercise can also ease symptoms of social withdrawal and low self-esteem.

Read on if you want to learn more about the connection of physical activity to your mental health. Who knows? This might be the sign you’ve been waiting for to start being physically active!

How Does Physical Activity Improve Mental Health?

There are many possible causes of depression. While we cannot always identify the exact cause, many different factors come into play. Stress, for one, may lead to depression. But fortunately, exercise can play a role in stress management!

An active lifestyle has a lot of benefits to your mental health. We listed down some of the reasons why you should get up and start moving.

  1. Exercise Boosts Your Endorphins

Endorphins are also called the feel-good neurotransmitters of the brain. It puts you in a good mood and increases your sense of well-being.

Runner’s High

But it’s not just endorphins that your body releases when you exercise. If you’ve ever had a euphoric feeling after a run, then you might have experienced what we call a “runner’s high.” For years, we have credited endorphin for this comfortable post-run feeling. However, chemical substances called endocannabinoids naturally produced in the body are the more likely the heroes of “runner’s high.” 

Still, endorphins play a role in preventing your muscles from aching. More studies have yet to back this up, but we surely know that we have often felt euphoric after a good exercise session!

  1. Exercise Improves Your Sleep

Depression is deeply connected to sleep. Among the many symptoms of depression are sleeping problems like insomnia. Signs of depression in teens also include sleeping too much.

But did you know that exercise can work as effectively as prescription sleep medications? Stress and anxiety can keep you awake for hours and make you lose sleep. But since physical activity has already improved your mood (thanks to endorphins and endocannabinoids), you’re more likely to sleep more easily at night!

Additionally, since exercise is tiring, it makes you feel sleepy. However, you have to note that exercising to the point of exhaustion is also not good. Taking short walks or doing your daily chores can improve your sleep.

  1. Exercise Increases Your Confidence

Taking your physical activity sincerely means you tend to set goals and plan your schedule. Some people take part in challenges, too. When you meet these goals, you feel a sense of accomplishment, thus improving your self-confidence.

Some people set goals for getting into their desired shape. They feel better about their appearance once they reach this goal.

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Why Is Working Closely With A Counselor Or Therapist Important?

Anyone can develop exercise routines on their own. You can take a walk in the park, bike to work, play basketball, or even do your daily chores, and they already count as exercise. But if you’re seeing a counselor or therapist, you have to discuss your routines with them. You have to let them help you primarily if you have other health problems or haven’t been exercising for a long time. They can tailor a routine according to your preference and toleration. 

Best Physical Activities For Your Mental Health

Many studies suggest that aerobic exercises are beneficial to people with depression. These include:

  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Running
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Dancing

Ensure to get your doctor’s approval regarding your routine. Take into account their suggestions, as some health problems might prevent you from certain aerobic activities. Take arthritis, for example. Typical aerobic exercises may be too hard on your joints and even worsen your condition. A professional may suggest aquatic exercises instead. They ensure that your routine does not interfere with your overall treatment plan.

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How Much Exercise Do You Need?

While lack of movement is not good, too much physical activity can also be harmful to you. This can even result in injury! Be patient and work gradually.

Most healthy adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (walking, swimming) weekly. Meanwhile, you can have 75 minutes of high-impact aerobic exercises (running, biking). 

Do not set unrealistic goals. Instead, aim for activities you enjoy doing, with the approval of your doctor, of course!

It’s Time To Get Moving!

Take a step to a healthier body and mind! Consult your counselor or therapist now and work with them in developing an exercise routine fit for you.

Physical activity can improve mental health. However, this alone is not enough treatment for depression or anxiety. Exercise is a beneficial addition to other therapies and medication that your doctor prescribed.

What Is Fitness Counseling And How Does It Help You Achieve Wellness

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Today, being fit and keeping up with the current health trends has been a huge priority for many. Because of the pandemic, many are motivated to achieve their fitness goals even in the confines of their home. But because of quarantine rules, it isn’t as easy to maintain and adhere to these choices as before.

The good thing is that fitness counselors help you achieve physical and mental triumphs despite the situation.

Are you interested in one? Here are the basics of the Sports and Fitness Psychology you need before participating in fitness counseling.

What Is Fitness Counseling

Fitness counseling, also known as fitness therapy or psychology, is an approach in psychology that combines sports science and psychology to help clients achieve their personal wellness goals.

Its primary function is to help athletes and coaches plan, strategize, and improve their performance during their games. It can also help fitness-enthusiastic individuals learn how to become their best selves when engaging in physical activities.

In addition, Sports Psychology researchers try to understand the connection between psychological factors and performance in physical activities. Conversely, they also check if engaging in such activities benefits an individual’s psychological state in the long run.

Focus And Scope Of Fitness Counseling

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Fitness counseling offers an array of solutions to the usual fitness struggles and exercise needs.

One of the primary goals of this form of therapy is to help individuals reach their highest potential and peak performance. This involves offering counsel to athletes or other individuals and their parents, coaches, and team staff.

Fitness counseling helps manage mental and psychological problems that may interfere with the fitness process. It provides solutions to manage stress and anxiety. It can also make you positive even when facing drawbacks in your fitness goals. This form of therapy can also help build leadership traits in team sports, training endurance or determination, and promoting cooperation within athletes.

Counselors in this field can help athletes and individuals who face long-term physical injuries overcome their difficulties and find hope in their recovery. Being stranded or immobile due to persisting injuries can be harsh for their mental health, so it is the job of psychologists to guide them moving forward.

Counselors can also guide athletes and sport-inclined individuals who are losing interest in their chosen sports and activities. Professionals can help them maintain and adhere to their usual health routines and make them feel more enjoyment while practicing their exercise programs.

Famous Techniques And Strategies

Along with the scope of this counseling type, there are also an array of techniques fitness counselors use when attending to their client’s various needs.

They primarily start with educating their clients about the different methods to shape their performance to the next level. This may include discussions on motivation and grit, increased focus during games, and improved overall performance.

Counselors can help clients perform a technique called Self-talk. This technique requires a client to repeat positive words and thoughts in his head. This promotes an increase in his attention towards a specific goal or objective.

Motor Imagery is also a usual tool in sports and fitness psychology. A visual and mental rehearsal of what an event or sensation will be like, in reality, can stimulate different senses.

Pre-performance Routines can be for both athletes and sports-inclined individuals. These are physical and mental actions they do before their event. Pre-performance routines give clients a sense of consistent performance, controlled actions, and predictability.

The most basic and familiar technique here is Goal Setting. Counselors and psychologists help clients list, determine, and differentiate their short-term and long-term goals and plans. Together with athletes, they check how measurable and attainable the goals are over the course of therapy.

Finally, Regulating Arousal is a good strategy for individuals. It improves a person’s performance by regulating their physical or mental activity. You can visualize winning sports events, discuss positive self-talk, or listen to empowering music or songs. You can also perform gentle and relaxing muscle techniques, slow breathing exercises, and meditation.

How To Find The Best Counselor

The Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) regulates standards for professionals in sport psychology. They are also the ones who provide certifications to qualified individuals.

In finding the best fitness counselor, make sure that they are licensed and recognized by the AASP. You can also look into their credentials if you find them fit for your choices and preferences.

Because you might need multiple counseling sessions, make sure to hire a counselor with whom you feel more comfortable. This is key to becoming more open in the long run.

Be well aware of your counselor’s manners when working with you. Check how professional their care is for you and if it pushes you to become your best self. Pay attention to how effective their approaches are for you and your current mental and physical capacities.


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Whether you are a professional athlete, a student-athlete, or an exercise enthusiast, engaging in Sports and Fitness Counseling or Therapy can be beneficial in improving your performance which is eventual in achieving your major goals in life.

Physical engagement and having good coaches can help you succeed with your sports and athletic career. Therapy can help you manage your mood, increase focus, and learn how to motivate yourself in the future. It can also promote retention and help you adhere to your goals despite setbacks and hurdles that may come your way.

Frequently Asked Questions About Motivational Enhancement Therapy

We all have those days when merely getting out of bed is a challenge. It normally happens on occasion. However, make sure to observe such instances. Once these occasional slumps stretch to days, weeks, and even months, there must be something serious going on. 

For one, serious mental health conditions can cause this feeling. If it’s the case, it can take a negative toll on our lives and how we connect with people around us.

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Many types of therapy are available that can properly address different mental health disorders. Behaviors and habits can change with the right help. One of the most effective treatments is motivational enhancement therapy. 

Motivational enhancement therapy aims to change and refocus your motivations in life. Usually recommended to people facing substance abuse problems, this method is backed by numerous studies. 

Like most types of therapy, it begins with asking yourself questions that can address negative behaviors. Because it involves making conscious adjustments, it is a difficult process for most. Some even end up rejecting it. 

But then,  things can get better over time. The therapist is available to assist through the process. They can help assess and provide feedback on your actions while also preventing relapse. 

The best way to gain the desired results is to be open to the process. Although it may take hard work, it is essential to trust the therapists and the process. Gradually, as the therapy moves forward, it will help bring a new perspective. 

Want to know more about motivational enhancement therapy? Read on to learn if this type of treatment is suited for you. 

How does motivational enhancement therapy work?

Motivational enhancement therapy, also known as MET, is a treatment with a primary goal to change or motivate an individual from the name itself. It is primarily used in people with substance abuse disorders or behavioral problems. These people usually resist changes in their habits, lifestyles, and other things. MET is an approach used to overcome those disrupting their well-being.

Is motivational enhancement therapy the same as motivational interviewing?

One can say that motivational enhancement therapy and motivational interviewing are the same. Their main goal is to help addicts overcome and become motivated in behavioral changes.

However, the difference between the two relies on specificities. MI is often used in a general setting with general goals and is usually the first step taken when a patient wants to start motivational therapy. In contrast, MET is tailored to a more specific purpose.

Is motivational enhancement therapy evidence-based?

Yes, motivational enhancement therapy is evidence-based. This particular type of treatment is already backed up by numerous findings and researches, all of which are credible.

How do therapists motivate clients?

Therapists motivate clients through MET’s five principles: communicating with understanding, preventing arguments, neutralizing opposition, elaborating on contradiction, and encouraging ability. These five principles will bring out an individual’s strength to overcome difficulties in changes.

What type of therapy is motivational interviewing?

Motivational interviewing is classified as psychotherapy. Specifically, an adjunct is usually used with cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is a client-centered approach, giving more importance to the individual and helping him/her resolve any change-driven problems he/she has.

What are the five stages of motivational interviewing?

The pre-contemplation stage, the first stage, is similar to a denial stage wherein patients are not ready to change yet. The second stage, the contemplation stage, serves as an assessment stage for patients to consider which behaviors or habits need changing. The third stage, called the preparation stage, allows the individuals to determine how they will change.

Next is the action stage, from the name itself, when they already work themselves out to change. Lastly, during the maintenance and relapse prevention stage, the therapist oversees the client’s progress.

What should you not do in motivational interviewing?

Whether you are undergoing motivational interviewing or you are the one doing the MI, remember not to use scare tactics, not to pressure yourself, and refrain from being biased or giving out your judgment, among many other things. It is vital that both the client and the therapist are comfortable and at ease with each other.

What is the rule in motivational interviewing?

RULE is an acronym for the four core principles of motivational interviewing. It stands for Resist the righting reflex, Understanding the patient’s motivation, Listening with empathy, and Empowering the patient. If you follow these RULE or core principles, instead, a successful MI is guaranteed.

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What are the six stages of change?

The six stages of change follow the five motivational interviewing steps: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and relapse prevention. The difference is that maintenance and relapse prevention are separated, making each one a different stage. So, therefore, change has six stages.

 How do you motivate physicians to improve compliance?

Improving compliance means improving patient care. To motivate physicians to improve compliance, one can start by removing any other administrative responsibilities or work so physicians can focus on working on their clients.

Other factors to consider are having them work with better technology and possibly more clinical staff. It is also essential to address any mood disorders if it starts affecting physicians due to various reasons.

 Why is behavior change so difficult?

Changing one’s behavior is difficult but not entirely impossible. One of the main reasons why many people tend to resist change is because they have been accustomed to one habit or lifestyle for so long that they see change as a potential threat or harm to what they are used to. The unfamiliarity change brings scares them.

 How do you influence and motivate others?

Using your voice to influence and motivate others should be put into fair use. To control and inspire other people, you should be able to empower them. Empowering others starts by empowering yourself first. Just like how loving others begin when you love yourself first.

It would be best if you also remembered to remain true to yourself. This way, your authenticity, and honesty will inspire others to follow you.

How do you motivate people in a team?

Motivating a team is more than just being their leader. As an efficient and effective leader, you must set a comfortable and safe space for every single one of your team members. It is crucial to building trust, loyalty, and understanding within the team. This way, you will be able to motivate and influence them better.

Do not forget to allow your teammates to have opportunities to grow and learn outside of the team.

What causes a lack of motivation?

Lack of motivation is almost always associated with psychological disorders, especially depression. However, there are other causes for it, such as lack of clarity, lack of goals, feeling overwhelmed, physical conditions, and disruptive habits such as alcohol drinking, to name a few.

 How do you improve morality?

Developing a strong morality is crucial as it guides us to give and have better judgments. Improving one’s character should always start from knowing what is right from wrong and what is good for you from what is not. It also involves having high self-awareness and self-management.

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Changing your habits is always difficult but not entirely impossible. Since you have had these behaviors for a long time, you may tend to resist at first. You may also doubt and worry about your capacity to change. 

But have patience in yourself and recognize this discomfort. It may initially be a painful process, but it will get better. Rest assured that you will eventually enjoy the fruits of your hard work. 

Motivational enhancement therapy is for those dealing with substance abuse issues, lack of goals, and destructive behaviors. By working with a therapist, you can take action to commit to change. Eventually, you will feel more empowered and excited about the future.

The process will begin by being aware of the present problem and how it affects you. After which, it will be necessary to adjust your thoughts to facilitate change. Then, the therapist will constantly evaluate the progress as the treatment continues. 

It will be a long journey of ups and downs. Expect to encounter bumps along the way. But through therapy and the therapist’s help, you will be able to overcome these hard times. 

Right now, you may be feeling uninspired and demotivated. But with the right help and guidance, this too will pass. Have confidence in yourself that you can change for the better. 

Life And Mental Health

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I have been asked recently – how is your life these days? A classmate of mine back in the University sincerely asked that question and was waiting with caring eyes. I did see the genuine concern for me, and it seems that she knew what happened to my marriage even if she was continents away.

Continue reading “Life And Mental Health”

Family Needs Help

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Having issues in the family is a common thing; everyone goes through, but some families may need a little more help than others. The help we may need can differ from one family to the other, and sometimes it may be hard for us to admit that we need help, but accepting the fact that we need help is the first step to fully healing. I have here a few of the reasons why you should consider Family Counseling and I hope you find the answers you are looking for right here.

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Keeping My Head High – Lockdown Is Making Me Go Downhill

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One month into the lockdown, and I lost my job of six years. I cannot blame my boss for closing down his business. We were in the travel agency industry, and right now, who’s traveling? I mean, it will take a long time before tourism will jump back. This pandemic has destroyed the lives of billions of people on this planet. And I am one of them.

Continue reading “Keeping My Head High – Lockdown Is Making Me Go Downhill”

On Lockdown: How’s Your Mental Health These Days?

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We are all advised to stay at home, and almost everything is in lockdown. This is due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and it is very stressful. People are worried, angry, fearful, and anxious all at the same time. This can seriously take a toll on one’s mental health, not just for the adults but also for kids and teenagers.

Continue reading “On Lockdown: How’s Your Mental Health These Days?”

Workplace Biggest Loser Competitions: A Yea Or A Nay?

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Over the years, biggest loser type competitions in the workplace have become increasingly popular. This is especially rampant during the holidays when people are immensely determined to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions.

If you are an employee thinking of joining a wellness challenge in your workplace, your short term goal would be to lose weight, while the long term goal would be to improve your overall health. However, in spite of its best intentions, these weight loss contests most likely don’t accomplish these important goals.

Once you’ve experienced participating challenges like this one, you will need to make a reflection of how it progressed and what you have to consider. Start with these questions:

  • Were you and the other participants determined and unforced the whole time?
  • Were there different types of employees who participated?
  • How much did you participate?
  • Did the participants become closer and was there less conflict of ideas at the end of the competition?


If you are the employer, on the other hand, and you are the one running the competition in the workplace to improve employee health, you might assume that those with smaller frames are healthier than those with larger frames.

But according to evidence-based research, anyone can be healthy regardless of how big or small they are. Additionally, intentional weight loss is frequently short-lived and can even lead to weight gain eventually. Finally, studies confirmed that weight loss contests typically focused on weight loss instead of health.

If you are planning to start a health and wellness drive through friendly competition, it is vital to first think about these before making a decision.


Will This Competition Foster Overall Health?

Rapid and intense dieting is not healthy at all. It is not an effective method and, not to mention the fact that it can increase one’s risk of developing physical and mental health conditions. Only healthy and positive behaviors contribute to permanent good health.

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Is It Rigid Or Flexible?

Achieving good health is a journey that is different from one individual to another. A specific method may work for a large-framed and active female but it may not work for a large-framed but slow-moving female. Create a drive or campaign that is not centered on only one set of individuals one that considers all types of employees.


Will The Competition Create A Positive Environment For Everyone?

If you are hell-bent on improving your company through employee engagement, it is crucial that your campaign is geared towards creating a friendly competitive environment where employees are happily fighting to win but at the same time working together to achieve the same goal of improving their health.


Ways To Integrate Health And Wellness Inclusively Among Employees

Consider these simple strategies to help you create a wellness challenge that is both workable and comprehensive.

  • Offer Opportunities To Learn. Engage your employees in webinars or short courses that might help them learn more about health and wellness. Find speakers and coaches that align with your kind of business.
  • Provide Appropriate Incentive. Providing incentives is a wise and generous move, but sometimes it can backfire if not done appropriately. If you want to give cash rewards or other incentives based on outcomes, you must remember to keep the playing field fair for everyone who would put in the effort to join the competition. It would be better to provide incentives based on outcomes versus engagement, with the goal to make the challenge inclusive.
  • Seek Their Opinion. If you’re having trouble finalizing the competition or knowing what kind of challenge you want to start, why not ask the employees themselves? Form a health and wellness committee that is tasked to gather opinions and ideas. This allows for a more diverse competition that can improve participation.

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Keep in mind that health and wellness are not synonymous with weight loss. The focus must be placed on healthy behavioral patterns, commitment to a healthy lifestyle, and most of all, and inclusive environment. If you need help or if you do have fresh ideas, send us a comment or share your story here.


Why Can’t I Stick To My Workout Program?

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Whether you’re a novice exerciser or a seasoned workout buff, it is almost always difficult to stick to one workout program. Just as the well-prepared plans are disrupted by life – family, work, illness, grief, bad moods – we don’t have control over everything, although we can sometimes increase the intensity of our exercises through more difficult challenges or obstacles.

If you’re one of the several people who have trouble following their workout schedules and programs, perhaps there is something you can do about it. Read on and find out the major reasons why you can’t stick to your workout program and how you can change it.

If someone or something interferes with your workout schedule, you complain bitterly until you’re able to find a way to sneak out for a quick fix on the treadmill. — Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.

Your Schedule Does Not Fit Your Way Of Life.

One of the standard guidelines in regular exercise is that we have to do exercise four to five times a week for an hour or so. The problem is that a lot of us don’t have the time or energy to exercise one hour daily. So we tend to skip our programs rather than try to do what we can with the time that’s left because we think that we can’t catch up anymore and it would be a waste of time.

Before you get used to this thought pattern, change it. Make a more doable workout that you are sure you can do. You don’t have to follow the complicated routines if they’re only adding to your daily stresses. Do simple exercises that are equally strenuous but don’t require too much thinking.

Pushups, crunches, weight lifts, and lunges are some simple routines that you can perform first slowly and with shorter frequencies and then progressed eventually. And you don’t have to force yourself to do an hour. Start with 30 minutes. You’ll see. You can do this!

All you have to do is spend at least 5 minutes looking at snapshots of nature and greenery to potentially see a change in your stress levels. — Michelle Kukla, PsyD

You Don’t Like Your Program.

It’s easy to hate some of the exercises that are part of your program, but part of the solution to this is not changing the routines but adjusting your attitude towards them. Most people exercise to lose weight, but they find it hard to stick to the boring methods that are incorporated into the program. If you start with modifying your personality and the way you think, you’ll understand why these exercises were meant for you.

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However, after stretching your patience and trying your best to like your program but to no avail, you can ask for a new set of workout program, one that you are probably involved in creating because you know which routines will bore you to death and which ones will lead you to better progress. After a few months and you feel like you’ve gotten used to it, you can do more enjoyable activities in the middle, like badminton, running, or dancing.


Your Body Is In Pain.

When you’re in pain, and you’re getting through your daily chores and activities, it will be even harder to add exercise to the mix. If you’re experiencing pain from a headache, lower back injury, or sore muscles, you may be hesitant and scared to move or push yourself to exercise.

It is common to experience some muscle soreness after working out. Such pain, however, can be a sign of exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). — Pirkko Markula Ph.D.

However, you must know that moving despite some conditions can help alleviate the pain. If formal exercise routines are still difficult to do, you can try to be creative as long as you keep moving.

This is not to say, though, that you will continue with the whole week doing nothing with the pain. You have to see your doctor and see if he has a concrete diagnosis for your problem. Sometimes, he does, and sometimes he doesn’t, but it’s always safe to have him check you up.

If the doctor tells you that it’s nothing more than a strain from your program, then you don’t have anything to worry about. Go ahead and continue with your workout but just go around with it and find ways to improvise.


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The key to health and wellness is consistency and commitment. Always try to incorporate any type of activity into your daily life no matter what it involves. If you’ve been exercising for quite some time and you abruptly stop, you’ll lose what you’ve gained in no time.

Remember to choose a workout program that fits your way of life so you won’t think of quitting something as crucial as taking care of your family – because being healthy is your gift of a happy life.