Making exercise easy
Posted on 19th April 2023 at 07:30
With the lighter evenings and longer days – hurrah (!) – it’s not surprising this time of year often kick starts many people’s health regimes. Particularly those related to stripping off some of the extra winter layers – which hide a multitude of sins (!) – or their forthcoming fortnight in the sun…
Put another way, it’s all about slimming and trimming. Slimming down and sending those few – or more (!) – extra pounds on their way. Trimming and toning those areas that could do with a bit more definition.
While both concepts are quite simple – in theory, at least (!) – they often seem to end up being much more complicated than need be.
Cleaning up the diet not only achieves the desired results now, but helps create good habits that will pay dividends well into the future. And, “no” chocolate is not one of your five a day, nor does your favourite fizzy drink count as water (!). The “logic” some people come up with to try and convince themselves – and us – that their far from healthy habits are, in fact, “healthy” often beggars belief…
Taking more exercise is equally simple. Being more active generally AND finding a form of exercise you enjoy, so will make time to do regularly. However, yet again, many people seem to find it far from easy to do.
Why is this?
Well, all too often, the biggest obstacle is bad past experiences. In other words, the dreaded games lessons at school. Perhaps other people made fun of you or your athletic ability – or, more likely, lack of. Maybe you didn’t like the teacher or whatever activities were on offer. Or it may have been something else entirely. Whatever the reason, you just didn’t enjoy the experience – to put it mildly (!) – and so have avoided exercising since. “I didn’t like games / gym / fill in the blank at school and so won’t like it now either.”
While your expectations may not have changed you, most certainly, are a very different person now. Even more important, the forms of exercise on offer are completely different – and much more diverse – than they used to be. It’s simply a case of finding one that suits you AND you enjoy. While it may sound strange to be emphasising the enjoyment aspect of exercise – rather than its toning or calorie burning effects (!) – it’s the key to success.
Well, it’s all about the difference in motivation. Doing something you enjoy relies on the limitless fuel of inspiration, making it easy to do. By contrast, doing something you’re less keen on (!) relies of willpower and stamina. And we all know what this means. Constant hard work and effort.
Which neatly leads on to another obstacle that brings many people to a grinding halt. Treating exercise as a “have to” rather than a choice. If you take a minute to think of some of the things you “have to” do, the difference is immediately obvious. Paying taxes. Going to the Dentist. And many other “have to’s” besides. In other words, it feels like hard work and no fun at all. With many people seeing exercise in exactly the same way, it’s not surprising they get no further than “I really should take more exercise”…
Perhaps you’ve managed to avoid – or get over or round – these obstacles, then ground to a halt. Wanting quick results – particularly with a holiday in the sun looming – often means people do too much too soon, making it a miserable experience all round.
While people often don’t want to hear it, it took time to get to where you are now and it’s going to take time to achieve the desired results. This doesn’t mean you won’t start feeling the benefits of taking more exercise quite quickly, it may just take a little longer to see changes in stamina or body shape. Perhaps you can go a little further or a little longer than before. Or take a little longer to start feeling out of breath or achy. It’s always much better to take things slowly and focus on longer term goals than instant effects, which often have a way of disappearing equally quickly.
And here’s another one that easily trips people up. Having a fixed idea of what counts as exercise. These days many people seem to think that, for exercise to count, it has to involve going to the gym every day or doing an exercise class several times a week. The reality is that all exercise – or movement (!) – is good and, as we’ve already said, it really doesn’t matter what it is as long as you enjoy doing it regularly. Even better, if there are several different forms of exercise you like, these will complement each other and so enhance the results you achieve. Hurrah!
Added to this, just being more active as you go about your day is an easy way to start getting more exercise. Taking the stairs, rather than the lift or escalator. Parking a little further away from the shops or work. Walking around town or somewhere you would have previously driven to. Standing rather than sitting. Playing with your children or pets. All movement is good, it’s just about remembering to do it!
Which brings us on to the final obstacle we’d like to talk about today. And it’s one the Little Monster in our Heads uses, tomorrow being a better day. In other words, it’s about putting off starting right now because you’re not ready – for some reason – and leaving it till tomorrow which, in some way, will be a better time to do it than today. It’s a neat way of stopping you making any changes to your life but, what the Little Monster in our Heads always ignores is that it’s always NOW, regardless of when you do it. So, all you’re doing is exchanging one “now” for another. If you need a quick reminder about now, click here.
The good news is there’s a very simple way to get round this particular obstacle. First, it’s acknowledging that you may not really feel like taking some exercise now BUT could, at least, go and put your shoes – or boots – on. Then, having done that, you could go and have a 10 minute walk. And, as you’re already out walking, you could go for a bit longer. Doing things slowly and one step at a time – no pun intended (!) – is an easy way to get things moving and, as you do so, you’ll find you start feeling more motivated.
Let’s finish with a quick reminder about some of the many benefits of being more active and taking regular exercise:
It improves the function and health of our body overall.
It boosts immune function, that of the mitochondria – the empower house of the cells – balances blood sugar, insulin and other hormones.
It encourages detoxification, lymphatic flow and blood circulation.
It reduces inflammation and pain.
It reduces many harmful aspects of ageing.
It improves our mood and feels good (!).
So, now it’s over to you.
With any exercise being good exercise, focus on what feels good for you AND you enjoy, so you’ll easily make it part of your routine. Along with a good diet, it’s the most powerful tool for staying healthy and enjoying a good quality life. It really is that simple and what our bodies were designed to do.
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture by unknown author
Share this post: