We are all individuals. That said, we are all human and our bodies are meant to move. The need for us to exercise is increasingly the loudest message that we are hearing in the media. From brain health to heart health to mental health, exercise is now cited as the number one action that will have a positive effect for us all.
‘Sitting disease’ is the latest cry. Only yesterday I heard that to counteract a day of 7 hours sat at your desk without moving you would need to complete as much as 75 minutes of exercise EVERY DAY. Of course standing for part of the day and taking regular walking breaks reduce this but that is a scary statistic. I’m guessing that there are not many people who get anywhere near that!
In the face of all of this focus on our need to exercise, I wanted to share some key lessons gleaned from working with clients over the last 7 years and from my own experience. My aim is to make it as easy as possible for you to fit more activity in to your day and to do so regularly. What we are looking at here is how to be, and to stay healthier for many years to come. I know that is important to many of you and I would love you to add anything that has helped you.
Tune into your motivation
Motivation is different for us all. There are common threads and very broadly there are 3 types that I have come across when it comes to exercising.
Drivers – these people set themselves a goal or make a commitment and they then get on with achieving it. They may enlist help, expertise or to build structure but they have the drive and intrinsic motivation to get themselves started and to stay on track.
Cruisers – they are driven and know exactly what they want to achieve but need to be held accountable to get there. Without a friend to meet for a run or a session booked, they will struggle to stay on track and to achieve results. They work hard but need extrinsic motivation to get them started and to keep them going.
Blockers – these individuals know that they need to or should do something about getting fitter BUT they sabotage themselves at every opportunity. They are vocal about wanting to achieve results and will get as far as setting up a plan, booking sessions or buying the book. The problem lies in really committing to doing it. There can be lots of tears, excuses and days ‘off plan.’ For this group it is all about getting to the stage when they commit and find a way to stay motivated. This is often as a health issue becomes evident or something changes to increase the urgency.
These are very broad groups but I think you will see yourself in one. I have worked with all 3 but the vast majority of my clients fall into the middle and a few into the first. I have certainly got clearer over the years as to who I can help to get results. Having an awareness of what support you need to have in order to achieve your goals is key in making sure that you are successful.
If you are interested in reading more about motivation and the different types I would recommend reading Gretchen Rubin ‘The Four Tendencies.’ Her analysis is far more involved and scientific than the broad categories I highlight.
Stop waiting for the endorphins to hit (and giving up when they don’t)
Trying to find the ‘Runner’s High’ and feelings of euphoria can give warped expectations of what you will experience during and after exercise. I work on the basis that no one regrets a workout when it is done. Your mood will improve, you will have a sense of achievement and satisfaction from having exercised as well as feeling virtuous for the rest of the day! Working hard towards a particular goal and achieving it can boost your self esteem and self belief too. You may feel the high but exercise is about so much more and different for us all.
It is all about routine
Exercise very rarely happens without planning it. Saying that you are going to start running this week is not enough. You need to work out when you will run and put it on the calendar.
Take the opportunity to try something new
If you had told me 5 years ago that outdoor swimming would become my passion I would have laughed. I tried it and it is now my exercise of choice. I started in the pool and learned to swim front crawl. I built up my distances and speed and entered a triathlon with an open water swim. Fast forward to today and I have swum more than 5km outdoors this week. My confidence has grown and that has an effect on everything that I do day to day not just swimming. That may not be your cup of tea but go out there and find what is.
Exercise is about getting involved and meeting new people
My experience has always been that everyone is so friendly and welcoming when you join a group or a class. Having a common interest is a great way to start a conversation. Join a group, go to an event or go out by yourself. It always amazes me that once you are doing something you notice everyone else that is doing it too. That quickly leads to saying hello, chatting and being talked into getting more involved. Making new connections is good for us socially and for our mental health too.
Exercising makes everything better
You feel better about yourself, about what you are capable of and how you look. I never cease to be amazed by what my body can do when I get out of my own way. We are all stronger, fitter, faster and more capable than we believe. Exercise is a great way of changing how you see yourself and spurring you on to do more. For me the best example of this was the amazing group of ladies I worked with completing a series of triathlons. We had done little in the way of running and cycling and even less swimming. We worked hard, shared what we had learnt and had an absolute blast. We have all gone on to complete other challenges and I am sure I am not the only one who smiles as they look back to those days.
Being active is about so many more people than you
Don’t underestimate the message that you share as you get more active for your family, friends and colleagues. Seeing your progress and celebrating your success has a knock on effect. My daughters may well think that I am a little crazy but they understand the importance of eating well and exercising. We have a responsibility to ourselves and those around us. What better example can you set than taking good care of yourself and being fit and healthy?
Time for action
Now it is time for you to think about what you can fit in to your week and maybe even finding a new challenge.
What action are you going to take today? Send me an email or add your comment to make a commitment to your goal.
My passion is to see more of you moving more and becoming more active. If you have found this blog useful then you will find lots more to support you at fit4evermore.
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