Most of us have heard about the many amazing benefits that regular exercise can provide for your health, including good cardiovascular health, mental wellbeing, weight control, blood glucose control and improved musculoskeletal health. But can these health benefits alone motivate people to exercise in some way 5-7 times a week? For some people this may be more than enough, but for others, if the enjoyment factor is missing, it will be a lot harder to get motivated and there will always be something more pressing to attend to!
The first thing you can do is think about a few ways to be active that you enjoy and do them! Enjoyment being the key word. You don’t need to go to the gym, for example, if you hate it, as your workout plan will not be sustainable over the long term, and the stress hormones created by this can actually cause weight retention or even gain. Also don’t dismiss things if they can be done in different ways. For example you may not enjoy indoor swimming, but love swimming in an outdoor pool when the weather is hot.
Below are just some ideas that you can try:
• Sports – tennis (singles or doubles), badminton, netball, football, etc
• Gym – weights or cardio
• Martial arts (there are many types to explore)
• Walking (briskly) or hiking
• Jogging or running
• Yoga, pilates or tai chi
• Classes such as aerobics, body pump, spinning etc
Find what suits you. Be open to new things, and don’t be scared to be bad at something at first, as everyone has to start somewhere.
Another way to improve your motivation and enjoyment factor for exercise is to use your exercise as a time to socialise. This also holds you accountable to someone else, making you far more likely to do it. Never have time to catch up with certain friends? Take an exercise class together or go for a family bike ride. Or even book a sporty holiday with some friends.
My personal journey with exercise is that I have always enjoyed going to the gym and I also used to really enjoy Pilates (so much that I have trained to teach it). But since I left my corporate career for a more solitary career in nutrition, I wanted to exercise in a more sociable way, so about 5 years ago I took up tennis as a complete novice and I love it! Sport is great because people can play at any age…. I have played on social doubles sessions with 80 and 90 year olds! During lockdown I dabbled with running, and HIIT workouts, both of which felt like a chore to me (although I know lots of people love to feel the burn and get a sweat on), so I listened to my body and did daily vinyasa yoga and long walks (which also helped with the stress management of juggling home schooling and work!). Then once the tennis courts reopened I was back like a shot!
Ideally, over a week, you want to ensure that your exercises of choice incorporate some strength, some flexibility and increase your heart rate. Often most forms of exercise cover more than one of these aspects.
But if you aren’t yet exercising regularly, just make a start. Something is always better than nothing.
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Francesca Grace Lancaster
Nutrition in Northwood, Rickmansworth and surrounding areas.