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Physical Activity
for Therapists

Glow My Space Free tools for mental health therapists
Glow My Space Free tools for mental health therapists
Glow My Space Free tools for mental health therapists

As a mental health professional, your work is emotionally demanding. Regular physical activity not only improves your physical health but also plays a pivotal role in maintaining your mental well-being. In the midst of your commitment to others, it's crucial to prioritize your own wellness.

In the realm of therapy, the therapeutic chair often serves as a vessel for transformative conversations. However, the hours spent seated during sessions may inadvertently affect therapists' physical well-being. At Glow My Space, we believe in addressing every facet of a therapist's professional life, including the impact of prolonged sitting.

The integration of physical exercise into your routine can be a powerful and transformative step toward practicing self-care. 

Mental Health Benefits of Physical Activity for Therapists

  • Stress Reduction: Exercise is a natural stress reliever, helping to alleviate the tensions that can accumulate throughout the day.

  • Enhanced Mood: Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, the body's feel-good chemicals, promoting an overall sense of well-being.

  • Improved Sleep: Regular exercise contributes to better sleep patterns, ensuring you wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.

  • Increased Energy Levels: Engaging in physical activity boosts energy levels, combating the mental fatigue that often accompanies the demands of therapy sessions.

  • Mind-Body Connection: Exercise promotes a mindful connection between the body and mind, fostering a sense of balance.

Physical Benefits of Regular Exercising  

Engaging in regular physical exercise offers a myriad of physical benefits that contribute to overall health and well-being. Here are some key advantages:

  1. Cardiovascular Health: Regular exercise strengthens the heart and improves circulation, reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering blood pressure.

  2. Weight Management: Physical activity helps control body weight by burning calories. Combined with a balanced diet, it can contribute to weight loss or maintenance.

  3. Muscle Strength and Endurance: Exercise, especially resistance training, enhances muscle strength and endurance, promoting better posture and reducing the risk of injury.

  4. Bone Health: Weight-bearing exercises like running, walking, and weightlifting help maintain bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

  5. Improved Flexibility: Stretching exercises enhance flexibility, making daily activities easier and reducing the risk of injuries related to muscle stiffness.

  6. Joint Health: Regular movement keeps joints flexible and helps prevent conditions like arthritis. It also reduces stiffness and discomfort.

  7. Enhanced Respiratory Function: Aerobic exercises improve lung capacity and respiratory function, leading to better oxygenation of the body.

  8. Improved Sleep: Physical activity can positively impact sleep quality, helping individuals fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper, more restorative sleep.

  9. Boosted Immune System: Moderate exercise has been linked to a strengthened immune system, reducing the risk of illnesses and promoting overall health.

  10. Better Digestive Health: Regular physical activity aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system and may help prevent conditions like constipation.

  11. Blood Sugar Control: Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, helping to regulate blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

  12. Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases: Regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

  13. Improved Cognitive Function: Physical activity has been shown to enhance cognitive function, including memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.

  14. Stress Reduction: Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, promoting a positive mood and reducing stress levels.

  15. Enhanced Balance and Coordination: Activities that improve balance and coordination, such as yoga and tai chi, contribute to overall stability and reduce the risk of falls, especially in older adults.

(It's important to note that the type, duration, and intensity of exercise can vary based on individual fitness levels, health conditions, and goals. Before starting a new exercise regimen, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or fitness expert, especially for those with existing health concerns).

The Reality of Prolonged Sitting  

As dedicated therapists, it's common to find oneself immersed in sessions, providing a safe space for clients to share their stories. Yet, the hours spent seated can take a toll on your own body. Prolonged sitting has been linked to various health concerns, and it's essential to recognize and address these challenges.

Physical Consequences:

  1. Muscular Strain: Remaining in a seated position for extended periods can lead to muscular strain, particularly in the back, neck, and shoulders.

  2. Posture Challenges: Maintaining a fixed sitting posture may contribute to poor spinal alignment, affecting posture over time.

  3. Decreased Circulation: Sitting for prolonged periods can impede blood circulation, potentially leading to issues such as numbness and tingling.

  4. Weight Gain: A sedentary lifestyle, including prolonged sitting, has been associated with weight gain and obesity, which can further exacerbate health concerns.

  5. Risk of Cardiovascular Issues: Studies suggest a correlation between prolonged sitting and an increased risk of cardiovascular issues, emphasizing the importance of regular movement.

Strategies for Therapists to Mitigate the Impact of Prolonged Seating:

  1. Incorporate Movement Breaks: Schedule short breaks between sessions to stand, stretch, and move around.

  2. Ergonomic Considerations: Invest in ergonomic furniture to support proper posture and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal discomfort.

  3. Active Sitting Options: Explore alternatives such as stability balls or standing desks to introduce variety and promote active sitting.

  4. Mindful Movement Practices: Integrate mindfulness and gentle stretching exercises into your routine to alleviate tension and promote flexibility.

  5. Regular Physical Activity: Engage in regular exercise outside of work hours to counterbalance the effects of prolonged sitting.

100 Physical Exercise Ideas to Explore:

You dedicate your time and energy to empowering others on their paths to well-being. It's time to turn that same level of dedication inward and prioritize your own physical health. One powerful way to achieve this is by finding a physical exercise that brings you joy and making it a regular part of your routine.

The key to making exercise a sustainable part of your routine is finding an activity that resonates with you. Whether it's the meditative flow of yoga, the exhilaration of a run, or the strength-building benefits of weightlifting, there's a form of exercise out there for everyone.

 

We have crafted a list to help you explore ways of moving your body:

  1. Yoga: Enhance flexibility, strength, and mindfulness through various poses and breathing techniques.

  2. Running: Experience the freedom and cardiovascular benefits of hitting the pavement.

  3. Cycling: Enjoy the outdoors or take a spin class for a low-impact yet effective workout.

  4. Swimming: Dive into a full-body workout that's easy on the joints.

  5. Hiking: Combine exercise with nature for a rejuvenating experience.

  6. Weightlifting: Build strength and improve metabolism with resistance training.

  7. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Short, intense bursts of exercise for maximum impact.

  8. Dancing: Turn up the music and make exercise a joyful, rhythmic experience.

  9. Martial Arts: Learn self-defense while improving flexibility and balance.

  10. Rowing: Engage multiple muscle groups with a full-body workout.

  11. Jump Rope: A simple yet effective cardio workout that enhances coordination.

  12. Kickboxing: Release stress and build strength through dynamic movements.

  13. Tai Chi: Cultivate balance, flexibility, and inner calm through slow, deliberate movements.

  14. Barre Workouts: Blend elements of ballet, Pilates, and yoga for a low-impact, toning workout.

  15. Zumba: Dance your way to fitness with energetic and fun routines.

  16. Rock Climbing: Challenge yourself both physically and mentally with this exhilarating activity.

  17. Team Sports: Join a local team for camaraderie and a full-body workout.

  18. CrossFit: Combine strength training, cardio, and functional movements for a comprehensive workout.

  19. Water Aerobics: Gentle on joints, this is an excellent option for low-impact exercise.

  20. TRX Training: Use suspension straps for a challenging, bodyweight workout.

  21. Spinning: Pedal your way to fitness in an energizing indoor cycling class.

  22. Cross-Country Skiing: Enjoy a winter sport that provides an excellent cardiovascular workout.

  23. Skateboarding: Unleash your inner adventurer with this dynamic activity.

  24. Kickball: Revisit the playful side of fitness with this childhood favorite.

  25. Gardening: Cultivate both your mental well-being and physical health.

  26. Calisthenics: Utilize your body weight for strength training without the need for equipment.

  27. Aerial Yoga: Combine traditional yoga with elements of aerial arts for a unique experience.

  28. Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP): Build core strength while enjoying the water.

  29. Bodyweight Exercises: Push-ups, squats, and lunges provide effective strength training.

  30. Pilates: Focus on core strength, flexibility, and overall muscle toning.

  31. Functional Fitness: Mimic real-life movements to improve strength for everyday activities.

  32. Skiing: Hit the slopes for a thrilling winter workout.

  33. Canoeing/Kayaking: Enjoy the tranquility of the water while working your upper body.

  34. Trail Running: Combine the benefits of running with the beauty of nature.

  35. Fencing: Engage in a strategic, full-body workout with this unique sport.

  36. Surfing: Embrace the challenge of riding the waves for a full-body workout.

  37. Paddleboard Yoga: Take your yoga practice to the water for an added balance challenge.

  38. Horseback Riding: Strengthen core muscles while connecting with animals and nature.

  39. Indoor Rowing: Experience the benefits of rowing in a controlled environment.

  40. Mud Runs/Obstacle Courses: Combine strength and endurance in a challenging, outdoor setting.

  41. Synchronized Swimming: Enhance flexibility, strength, and teamwork in the water.

  42. Wheelchair Sports: Adapted sports like basketball or tennis for inclusive fitness.

  43. Frisbee Golf: Combine outdoor activity with a low-impact sport.

  44. Aqua Zumba: Infuse your Zumba routine with the resistance of water for added benefits.

  45. Racquetball: Enjoy a fast-paced game that improves cardiovascular fitness.

  46. Tree Climbing: Reconnect with nature and engage your entire body.

  47. Urban Hiking: Explore your city or town on foot for a unique workout experience.

  48. Geocaching: Combine outdoor exploration with the excitement of a treasure hunt.

  49. Boxing: Release stress and build strength through boxing workouts.

  50. Urban Dance: Join a dance class or follow online tutorials for a vibrant, expressive workout.

  51. Parkour: Navigate obstacles and environments with fluidity, promoting agility and strength.

  52. Paddleboard Pilates: Combine the core benefits of Pilates with the stability challenge of paddleboarding.

  53. Mountain Biking: Explore off-road trails for an exhilarating cardiovascular workout.

  54. Aqua Cycling: Pedal in a pool for a low-impact, resistance-enhanced cycling experience.

  55. Ultimate Frisbee: Enjoy a fast-paced team sport that combines running, jumping, and throwing.

  56. Boxercise: Incorporate boxing-inspired moves into your workout for cardio and strength.

  57. Circus Arts: Learn skills like aerial silks or trapeze for a unique and challenging workout.

  58. Muay Thai: Engage in the "Art of Eight Limbs" for a full-body, martial arts workout.

  59. Pole Dancing: Build strength, flexibility, and confidence through pole fitness routines.

  60. In-line Skating: Glide your way to fitness, improving balance and lower body strength.

  61. Surfboard Fitness: Mimic surfing movements on land to enhance strength and balance.

  62. Sled Push/Pull: Load up a sled and push or pull for an intense, functional workout.

  63. Belly Dancing: Combine cultural expression with a low-impact, core-focused dance workout.

  64. Synchronized Ice Skating: Enjoy figure skating with a team, promoting coordination and teamwork.

  65. Muay Thai Kickboxing: Incorporate powerful kicks into traditional kickboxing for added intensity.

  66. Dragon Boat Racing: Join a team for a water-based, upper-body intensive sport.

  67. Handball: Engage in a fast-paced team sport that combines running and throwing.

  68. Street Workout: Utilize urban structures for bodyweight exercises and calisthenics.

  69. Mountain Climbing: Scale mountains for a challenging full-body workout and breathtaking views.

  70. Agility Ladder Drills: Enhance coordination and footwork with quick, precise movements.

  71. Bollywood Dance: Infuse your workout with the energetic and expressive movements of Bollywood.

  72. Bouldering: Climb short, challenging routes without ropes for a full-body workout.

  73. Samba: Learn the vibrant and rhythmic dance style for cardiovascular fitness.

  74. Medicine Ball Exercises: Incorporate weighted medicine balls for strength and flexibility.

  75. Hula Hooping: Rediscover childhood fun while working on core strength and coordination.

  76. Kick Volleyball: Combine traditional volleyball with soccer-like kicks for a dynamic game.

  77. Street Hockey: Enjoy a fast-paced team sport with cardiovascular and agility benefits.

  78. Hiking Yoga: Integrate yoga poses and mindfulness into your hiking routine.

  79. Caving/Spelunking: Explore caves for a unique combination of adventure and physical activity.

  80. Kick Scooter Workout: Combine scootering with strength exercises for a fun, full-body workout.

  81. MMA (Mixed Martial Arts): Experience a versatile workout incorporating various martial arts disciplines.

  82. Aquatic Rowing: Perform rowing exercises in a pool for low-impact, high-resistance training.

  83. Funky Dance Fitness: Combine dance styles for a lively and creative workout routine.

  84. Kayak Polo: Play a water-based team sport, combining kayaking and water polo.

  85. Mountainboarding: Ride down slopes on a board with oversized wheels for a thrilling workout.

  86. Wallyball: Play volleyball in a racquetball court, adding an extra dimension to the game.

  87. Synchronized Skating: Join a team for synchronized figure skating, enhancing teamwork and coordination.

  88. Cardio Drumming: Use drumming as a rhythmic cardio workout with exercise balls and drumsticks.

  89. Jiu-Jitsu: Learn ground fighting techniques for self-defense and full-body conditioning.

  90. Powerlifting: Focus on the "big three" lifts – squat, bench press, and deadlift – for strength training.

  91. Hyrox (Functional Fitness Racing): Participate in an indoor fitness competition combining various exercises.

  92. Pickleball: Enjoy a mix of tennis, badminton, and table tennis for a dynamic, low-impact sport.

  93. Outdoor Bodyweight Circuit: Create a circuit using natural elements for an adaptable workout.

  94. Freestyle Skateboarding: Master tricks and maneuvers on a skateboard for a challenging workout.

  95. Park Fitness Trail: Utilize outdoor fitness equipment in parks for a full-body workout.

  96. Salsa Dancing: Combine dance and aerobic exercise while enjoying the rhythm of salsa music.

  97. Nordic Walking: Add poles to your walk for increased upper body engagement and cardiovascular benefits.

  98. AcroYoga: Blend acrobatics, yoga, and Thai massage for a unique partner-based practice.

  99. Jazzercise: Infuse dance elements into a high-energy workout for a fun cardiovascular routine.

  100. Indoor Trampolining: Bounce your way to fitness with indoor trampolining, a fun and effective exercise that improves cardiovascular health, enhances coordination, and engages various muscle groups. The low-impact nature of trampolining reduces stress on joints, making it an enjoyable option for individuals of all fitness levels. Jump, twist, and soar to new heights while experiencing the exhilarating benefits of this dynamic workout (I hate exercising, so I just got an indoor trampoline and follow videos to make it more fun. Add your favorite power songs in the background for motivation). 

 

A Guide for Mental Health Therapists to Include Exercise in Busy Schedules

In the demanding world of mental health therapy, finding time for self-care, especially in the form of physical exercise, can seem like a daunting task. However, the benefits of incorporating movement into your routine are undeniable, contributing not only to your physical well-being but also enhancing your mental resilience.

 

The following are some ideas on how mental health therapists can easily weave physical exercise into their busy schedules.

Microbursts of Activity:

Break down exercise into shorter, more manageable sessions. Ten minutes of brisk walking, stretching, or bodyweight exercises between sessions can add up throughout the day, providing numerous benefits without requiring a significant time commitment.

 

Schedule with Intent:
Treat exercise as an essential appointment by scheduling it into your calendar. Designate specific time slots for physical activity just as you would for client sessions or administrative tasks. Consistency is key, and a structured schedule helps make exercise a non-negotiable part of your routine.

 

Multitasking Mindfully:
Incorporate movement into activities that do not require your full concentration. For instance, take phone calls while walking or practice deep-breathing exercises during breaks. This allows you to accomplish tasks while engaging in physical activity.

 

Create a Dedicated Space:
Set up a small exercise space in your office or home. Having a designated area with minimal equipment, such as resistance bands or light weights, makes it easier to squeeze in a quick workout without the need for travel or extensive preparation.

 

Commute Mindfully:
If possible, opt for active commuting. Walk or bike to work, or park your car farther away to incorporate more steps into your daily routine. This not only adds physical activity but also serves as a transition between work and personal life.

 

Lunchtime Workouts:
Use your lunch break for a short workout session. Whether it's a brisk walk, a quick yoga routine, or a brief cardio session, dedicating even 20-30 minutes to exercise can reenergize you for the remainder of the day.

Incorporate Exercise in Sessions:
If appropriate, integrate movement into therapy sessions. Walking therapy, where you stroll with clients outdoors, or incorporating gentle stretches and mindfulness exercises can enhance the therapeutic experience for both you and your clients.

 

Online Resources:
Explore online platforms offering short, guided workout sessions. Whether it's a quick yoga flow or a high-intensity interval workout, a plethora of resources cater to various time constraints and fitness levels, enabling you to exercise at your convenience.

 

Accountability Partners:
Partner with a colleague or friend who shares your commitment to exercise. Having someone to hold you accountable can make it more likely for you to prioritize physical activity and make it a social and enjoyable experience.

 

Mindful Movement Breaks:
Incorporate brief movement breaks into your day. Set a timer to remind yourself to stand up, stretch, or walk around every hour. These short breaks not only improve circulation but also contribute to maintaining focus and productivity.

Family Fitness Fun: A Guide for Parents to Include Kids in Physical Activity

If you are a parent, on top of being a therapist, we personally understand your struggle. Juggling the demands of work, household responsibilities, and the intricacies of family life, makes it harder to find time for physical exercise. Using the only time you have available with your kids is important (I think that none of us want for our kids to go to therapy one day to process that their parent was never available). However, incorporating your children into your fitness routine not only makes exercise more enjoyable but also instills healthy habits from an early age. It will definitively be quality time together.

 

Here's a list of ideas to seamlessly blend physical activity into family life:

1. Playful Outdoor Adventures: Transform outdoor time into family fitness fun. Activities such as hiking or exploring nature trails not only encourage physical activity but also provide opportunities for quality family bonding. Explore nearby trails or nature reserves together. Hiking not only provides cardiovascular benefits but also connects your family with the great outdoors

2. Dance Parties at Home: Turn up the music and have impromptu dance parties in your living room. It's a fantastic way to get your heart rate up, and kids absolutely love the freedom of movement and expression.

 

3. Team Sports in the Backyard: Create a mini sports field in your backyard. Play soccer, basketball, or even a friendly game of tag. Team sports not only promote physical fitness but also foster teamwork and cooperation.

 

4. Bike Rides Together: Take family bike rides around the neighborhood or local parks. Biking is a low-impact exercise that appeals to all ages and can become a delightful family tradition.

 

5. Family Yoga Sessions: Explore the world of family-friendly yoga. Many online platforms offer kid-friendly yoga sessions that incorporate storytelling and playful poses. It's an excellent way to promote flexibility, balance, and relaxation. You may also get a set of yoga cards and try to make the yoga poses with your kids.

 

6. Obstacle Course Challenges: Set up an obstacle course in your backyard or living room using household items. Create challenges that involve crawling, jumping, and balancing for a full-body workout that doubles as a game.

 

7. Active Commuting: If possible, walk or bike with your kids to school or nearby activities. It not only integrates physical activity into your routine but also provides an opportunity for meaningful conversations. 

 

8. Interactive Video Games: Select active video games that require movement, such as dance or fitness games. It's a fun way to engage kids while promoting physical activity in a technology-friendly manner.

 

9. Yard Work as a Family: Involve your kids in gardening or yard work. Planting flowers, pulling weeds, or raking leaves can be surprisingly effective physical activities for the entire family.

 

10. Indoor Scavenger Hunt: Create an indoor scavenger hunt that incorporates movement. Assign physical tasks or exercises to different clues, turning it into an exciting fitness adventure.

 

11. Balloon Volleyball: Set up a makeshift volleyball court at home using a balloon. This low-impact game improves hand-eye coordination and provides a great cardiovascular workout.

 

13. DIY Mini-Golf Course: Transform your living space into a mini-golf course using household items. It's a creative way to engage in physical activity while having loads of family fun.

 

14. Water Balloon Toss: On warm days, engage in a water balloon toss in the backyard. The running, tossing, and laughter make it a delightful way to stay active and cool off. You may also engage in a lively Snowball Relay Race to play outside in the snow during winter.

 

15. Family Fitness Challenges: Create family fitness challenges where everyone participates. Whether it's a daily step count goal or a weekend fitness challenge, making it a family affair fosters a sense of shared accomplishment.

 


Incorporating physical activity into family life not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also creates lasting memories. By making fitness a family priority, you're not only investing in your own well-being but also nurturing a positive and active environment for your children. Embrace the joy of movement together, and watch as it becomes an integral part of your family's daily routine.


Remember, it's not about finding large chunks of time; it's about making the most of the moments you have. At Glow My Space, we understand the profound impact therapists have on the well-being of others, and we believe that your own well-being is equally important. We encourage you to embark on a journey of self-care by finding a physical exercise activity that resonates with you. Whether it's the serenity of yoga, the exhilaration of a dance class, or the simplicity of a daily walk, the key is to make it your own.

As you prioritize your health, remember that the benefits extend beyond the physical – regular exercise has the power to enhance your mental resilience, creativity, and overall sense of fulfillment. We hope the ideas shared have sparked inspiration and provided a starting point for integrating movement into your self-care routine.

 

Glow My Space aims to empower therapists like you to nurture their own vitality, so they can continue to shine brightly in their essential role. Your well-being matters, and as you embark on this journey, may you find joy and rejuvenation in embracing the transformative magic of physical exercise. 

To explore other areas of self-care as a therapist 

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