GUEST FEATURE: Fitting exercise in between other commitments can seem difficult when life is so busy. And if we set our goals too high, it can be off-putting. Ironically, if exercise is seen purely as a means to an end, it can be harder to get off the sofa and get moving. Here are some hints to get you started.
Choose something you enjoy
When you’re thinking about exercise, consider physical activity in its broadest sense. Some love the freedom of swimming, whilst others love the feeling of the wind in their face on a brisk walk. The key is to treat exercise not as work (a means to an end) but as play (an end in itself). The joy of exercise for the fun of it can be greater without the pressure of deadlines and competition.. You don’t need to buy expensive kit, or push yourself to the limit – and by doing something for yourself, you will also feel physically and mentally better.
Value doing a little, often
Each step you take towards being more active is important. Doing a small amount of exercise, such as a short walk at lunchtime, parking your car just a little further from your destination or using stairs instead of a lift, all make a difference. Once you get started it’s easier to build. Meaning you are more likely to stick with it and enjoy it, and you’ll get a great sense of purpose and achievement from improving steadily over time.
Make it social
Try exercising with friends and family or make new acquaintances. Research shows that exercise helps you feel good about yourself and the world around you, and doing activity whilst connecting with others makes us feel happier and more secure. Great for mental well-being. Exercising with friends means you are more likely to enjoy the experience and stick with it. It’s also a great way to network with people who share your interests. There are a growing number of local sporting businesses and social media groups who coordinate groups interested in getting or staying active. Running for beginners, team sports and more – often requiring little or no financial commitment.
Being active as a family can be great fun too, whether it’s a walk in the woods or kicking a ball in the park – and it’s a great habit to instil in your kids.
Time out for you
It might be that you need time alone to focus on yourself. A walk or designated time for exercise can be a chance to clear your head and it’s amazing how much more creative you can be in the fresh air.
Reconnect with your younger self
Fond memories of school netball matches, tennis, football or hockey but not given them a thought since leaving school? Many sports clubs and dance groups run short courses for those of us who are a bit rusty usually at cheaper introductory rates, whilst some have free ‘open days’. If you have lost your confidence with a particular sport it is a great way to get back into doing it under the guidance of a relative expert, without over-committing or breaking the bank.
Save money and enjoy the outdoors
Commuting on foot or by bike can even save you money, and possibly time, if you usually spend your journeys fuming in traffic jams! Not only is this a free and easy way of fitting exercise into your life, it can also improve concentration and help you sleep better. Being outside, especially in the summer, also gives us a chance to reconnect with nature and discover new places, and you will be doing something positive for the global environment. Great for getting a good dose of Vitamin D too when the sun shines.
Feature courtesy of VavistaLife Physiotherapist, Claire Treen at www.vavistalife.com