I’ve always loved being active, whether that be walking or playing a sport but sticking to it has always been the problem. Can you relate to this? Setting a plan to start an exercise regime that’s going to become a new exciting routine; it’s going to be life changing…to only quit 3 days later. Yup I know that feeling but in despite of that, I pushed myself to join a netball team nearly 3 years ago and have shown a pretty good level of commitment (not perfect but good enough). And this was just one way to kickstart exercise.
The idea to join a team sprung to mind following a break up when I was having all the usual heartbroken feelings – wallowing in my own self-pity and all that. I was desperate to stay active, make friends and be part of something. I was lucky enough to find a local club with a great bunch of girls that were not only passionate about being active but were simply nuts and up for a good laugh.
How to fight the ‘I can’t be bothered’ feeling
I really enjoy it but I still have those days that I just can’t be bothered. Y’know the feeling when we get home, sit down and put on the TV or in my case slump on the bed; where the thought of working up a sweat fills me with dread. I start thinking right, how can I get out of going? Well, I’ve just got so much to do and I don’t feel great; I’m terribly tired. My mind goes full on dramatic but the occasions I unnecessarily use one of these excuses is rare, but why when I’m obviously desperate to not go. It’s because I know that after being active, I nearly always feel tons better and secondly, I have committed to a team and don’t want to let them down.
For me personally, I need to be stern with myself and be cruel to be kind; I tell my body “well you have no choice because there’s a team you can’t disappoint and you’re going to be full of life afterwards – shift your arse, you won’t regret it”.
So why exercise? Why bother….
The NHS are chucking out some impressive statistics on this one as they brand exercise a miracle cure! Exercise is thought to reduce the risk of some serious health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer by 50% (I’m picturing the stern side of my brain taking notes in prep to guilt me). But wow, 50% reduction by moving more. And as I’m already stiff as a board, I’m particularly interested in the 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis. These are some motivating numbers but how the hell can being active change our life journey so much?
Exercise strengthens our heart by improving circulation to raise the oxygen levels in the body, as well as strengthening the bones and muscles. If the biology waffle isn’t your thing then perhaps you are more interested in the benefits to your mental health as it’s well known that exercise releases chemicals to lift our mood. Chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin help to improve mental health and if exercise is done regularly enough it will help with conditions like depression and anxiety. The benefits are endless as the research also goes into improvements in our sleep, weight loss and even sex drive.
Despite the benefits of exercise that are rammed down our throat; I don’t do it because…
There are a million and one reasons to not do it – too tired? Busy? No motivation? Unfit? Out of shape? Self-conscious? Can’t afford it? No one to go with? Haven’t shaved my armpits? I’m on my period? Dirty gym kit? Feeling shit? Unfocused? Don’t care? Family commitments? I could go on but that’s quite enough of the endless excuses we make.
So the answer to quite a few of these is already exercise – it’s like a shop that sells energy in the currency of movement. As well as this, it increases confidence. It might take time but it’ll come with a good combination of activity and a fuck it attitude – that self-esteem will hit the roof in no time.
Yeah family commitment is important but is it possible to squeeze in a walk around the block or a 20 minute in house workout?
And hairy armpits – bugger it! Exercise can be done with those bad boys down. The answer is to not get too close.
Any movement counts
Exercise doesn’t have to follow the book – move in the most ridiculous way – dance, spin, skip, jump….it’s movement right? Run like Phoebe (Friends reference *LOVE*) – who gives a crap!
So while the temptation to kick back with Netflix is pretty damn strong, I hear the NHS exercise guidelines whispering in my ear – ‘Frankie have you done your 150 minutes of exercise this week?’. And the answer is sometimes yes and other times nope but let’s not get hung up on it and instead be proud of what we have achieved.
What’s your thoughts on aiming for 150 minutes of exercise a week? I prefer to say 2.5 hours as I find it less overwhelming or 30 minutes 5 times a week. On top of this we are advised to get involved in some kind of strength exercise. That could be yoga, pilates or lifting weights.
I’m not going to pretend the expectations aren’t high. That’s a lot of exercise to squeeze in between work, running a house, spending time with family and friends; as well as some needed chill time. Sometimes it just isn’t doable so what can we do to be active but realistic at the same time?
How to be realistically active
Exercise professionals (which I am not) are likely to firstly advise exercise in the form of the gym, exercise classes, sports, running or brisk walking with the aim to get that heart pumping. But lets think of some other ways to be active. If I’ve had a week of little exercise then I will add some lunges, pirouette’s and a whole load of other weird shit whilst cleaning the house. Top tip – buy some mop slippers! They are not only practical but surprisingly create a good workout! And boy, you can even work up a sweat whilst hoovering. Or if you’d rather get outdoors – what about gardening? And while you’re at it pop on some music or a podcast.
What else might help
Have you tried exercising with a friend? I’m going to throw my own statistic out there – I am 10 times more likely to exercise if it is with someone. In all seriousness, it is much more motivating (or pressurising) to go if it’s with someone else. As well as that, if you are feeling nervous then it’s support and you can push each other along. One of my new approaches to stay focused is to put my gym kit on as soon as I get home even if the exercise doesn’t start for another 2 hours. It’s my way of taking control over the negative chatter in my mind. While some people even choose to finish work and get straight to it to avoid the temptation of seeing the sofa.
The other little things we can put into practice are: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to talk to your colleagues instead of emailing or parking further away at the supermarket. Or like me, consider joining a club – there’s loads out there! Get trying some ideas – there’s something that’ll float your boat but if you aren’t enjoying it then maybe you haven’t found it yet.
“Every journey begins with a single step”.