Growing Up

    How not working out has affected my mental health

    Bridget Kelley

    More stories from Bridget Kelley

    I’ve been pretty busy lately. I’ve been trying to juggle a lot of things and it started to look like I needed to let something fall to the wayside — that thing ended up being exercise.

    I don’t think I’ve found time to work out in at least two weeks. In fact, if I really think, I haven’t been working out consistently since last summer, when I would go to the gym every day.

    I love working out. I’m not sure if I’m good at it, but I know it’s good for me.

    Going to the gym consistently has been immensely beneficial for my mental health. When I was working out every day, I felt better. It’s as simple as that.

    Now, my not working out has not entirely been my fault. I injured my knee earlier this semester and I’ve had some health issues, so I took days off. On days where I wasn’t feeling my greatest, I should’ve gotten myself into the right mindset and just gone — I know I would’ve felt better.

    In doing research for this story, I came across an article published by the NCAA that discusses how an injury affects mental health.

    I have sustained many injuries in my athletic endeavors, including some that put me on the bench for some big parts of my cheerleading career, and I never put two and two together to realize my injuries were probably what was negatively affecting my mental health throughout high school.

    I have noticed that my inability to get to the gym has made a huge impact on my mental health over the past half of the semester. I’ve been much more anxious. I’ve had a harder time doing things. I don’t have as much energy.

    I came to the realization of how little I’ve been working out after going to the doctor’s recently. The nurse came in, took my vitals, and asked the usual litany of questions — How much sleep do you get? Have you fallen recently? Do you feel safe at home? How often do you exercise?

    That last one really got me. I would usually say two to three times per week, sometimes more. I couldn’t say that this time. In fact, I couldn’t tell them the last time I worked out. Maybe it was a few weeks ago.

    That made me take a look at myself. I need to keep myself in shape. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a prime example of the “no excuses” attitude. If she can do it, so can I.

    Spring break is going to be a great time to get my butt in gear. I’m going home where I will have access to my parents’ refrigerator and kitchen, as well as my personal trainer, who is also known as my younger sister. This is going to be a move in the right direction for me.

    Coming back from break, I’m putting my gym membership to good use. I am going to make an effort to watch fewer shows on Hulu and spend more time taking care of my body and mind.

    I’m excited to get back to doing what I love and feeling like myself again. Realizing what affects your physical and mental health is all a learning process. Taking action to make it better — that’s growing up.

    Kelley can be reached at [email protected].