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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Bethune

Things That Have Influenced My Perspective on Exercise

We all know exercise is good for our health so why do so many of us find it hard to be physically active?

Barriers to increasing the amount of exercise we do can be complex. Accessibility, socio-economic factors and psychological relationships with exercise and body image all have a part to play.

Over the years I’ve come across countless articles, videos and talks that have shifted my perspective on exercise. Many of these have helped me to uncouple my association with physical activity as purely …well, physical… and opened my eyes to the benefits of exercise for our brain and emotional health. It’s also helped me to realise that you don’t have to train for a marathon to significantly improve your activity levels and mental and physical health. (As we like to say, 'small things consistently done!').

This Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 with the theme 'move more for mental health' I’m sharing some of things that influenced my perspective on exercise. I hope they do the same for you.


‘23 ½ Hours’ by Dr Mike Evans

In this short visual lecture by Dr Mike Evans, a professor at the University of Toronto, Department of Family and Community Medicine, he explains the impact of limiting sedentary ‘activities’ such as watching TV, scrolling, desk work and sleeping to 23 ½ hours per day! Surely something we can all achieve…

‘Movement is Life’ by Youth Sport Trust

Most of us understand the impact of inactivity – weight gain, muscle loss, joint stiffness etc but did you know that being inactive affects the body at a cellular level?

This brilliant short animation, narrated by Dr William Bird MBE, explains the cellular impact of not exercising and how schools play a role in creating active future generations.

‘Run, Jump, Learn!’ by Dr John Ratey

Often, we associate the benefits of exercise with physical gains – weight loss, building strength, achieving that ‘beach body’. But what if getting physically fit was in fact a by-product of being active?

In this brilliant Tedx Talk by Psychiatrist Dr John Ratey, he argues that the impact of exercise on the brain and the increased ability to focus and learn, is so profound that it must be its primary function.

‘The Brain-Changing Benefits of Exercise’ by Wendy Suzuki

When Neuroscientist, Dr Wendy Suzuki, experienced the impact of exercise for herself, it inspired her to completely overhaul her research and focus on the neurological effects of physical activity. Her findings are that exercise is one of the most transformative things you can do for your brain today! 

‘A Thorough Examination: Exercise’ by Drs Chris and Xand

This entertaining podcast series by the Van Tulleken twins, Drs Chris and Xand, is a brilliant personal exploration of our relationship with exercise interspliced with medical and scientific research and facts. In particular, I love the discussion in Episode 8 about how our belief systems can be a powerful barrier to exercising more and reinforcing inactive behaviours (and vice versa). Simply believing ‘I’m not the type of person that goes to the gym’ can be the very reason you don’t move more.

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